NHS To 'Improve Hospital Food'

New Rules Have Been Put In Place To Improve Hospital Food Across The NHS


Hospitals across the country have been told to meet mandatory food standards as part of a long-term drive to raise the quality of meals served to patients.

Under new rules, the Department of Health will require hospitals to meet legally-binding benchmarks on nutrition and quality, reports the Press Association.

Patients will also be screened for malnutrition and given personal food plans so that people are provided with food that meets their health, nutrition and cultural needs.

The rules were put together by the Hospital Food Standards Panel (HFSP), which worked with a number of royal colleges to ensure that targets were achievable with current NHS staffing and resource arrangements.

NHS Choices will also be involved in the new drive - showing members of the public reviews by patients relating directly to the quality of food at hospitals online.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: "[Food] needs to be nutritious, appetising and accessible to patients, their visitors and NHS staff. It should meet social and cultural expectations and be packaged and presented so that people can eat and enjoy it.

"Food must also be clinically appropriate and everyone who needs more help to eat and drink should get it."

Dianna Jeffrey, chair of Age UK, who led the HFSP study, echoed this sentiment, adding that while hospitals would never provide "five star" food, patients should always be reasonably satisfied with the meals provided.

Campaigners have long bemoaned the quality of food provided by NHS hospitals.

In 2013, celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal began work with the University of Reading to put together hospital meal plans that would appeal to elderly people, who require stronger flavours due to their weakened taste pallet.

Blumenthal's menu provided extra seasoning with soy, ketchup and Worcester sauce, which he argued was enough to give previously bland meals a boost.

In a blind taste test, patients reacted much more positively to the chef's menu, although it is unclear whether Blumenthal's new approach will be used as part of the HFSP's campaign.

Expert Opinion
The NHS has a responsibility to ensure that patients are always able to access a good quality of care and support when being treated in hospital, and central to this is ensuring that they are given nutritious and quality meals during stays.

"These plans are an important step in the right direction on this issue and will ensure that meals are tailored to the needs of individuals, so that best efforts will be made to take into account exactly what patients require.

"The use of reviews is also important in terms of transparency, meaning hospitals will be held to account if meals are below-par or they fail in their responsibilities in this regard."
Luke Daniels, Partner