Improve Hospital Food

Improve Hospital Food

Now that the new government is in power, we are asking them to fully recognise the importance of food and farming to public health, our environment, and the economy.

We believe that every hospital should become a ‘beacon of good food’ contributing to the ‘radical upgrade in prevention and public health’ called for in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

southmead hospital

Why is this important?

Leading by example

Our NHS is under considerable strain due to ill-health resulting from a poor diet. Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Exec, has said “obesity is a slow-motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising health care costs. If as a nation we keep piling on the pounds around the waistline, we’ll be piling on the pounds in terms of future taxes needed just to keep the NHS afloat.” If Britain is going to eat a healthier diet then the NHS must lead by example by normalising healthy eating and transforming every hospital into a beacon of good food.

For Public Health

This is particularly important for older people. Estimates suggest that around 1.3 million people over 65 suffer from malnutrition in the UK. Malnutrition leads to a number of complications in older people and increases dependency on the NHS, family, carers and other support service.

With the proportion of older people predicted to increase from 18% to 26.1% of the population in the next 50 years, it is increasingly important to focus on preventing malnutrition and enabling older people to live for longer in good health and in their own homes. Improving the food served to older people in hospitals is an important piece of the picture.

For the economy

In 2011-12 the cost of malnutrition to the NHS in England was estimated to be £19.6 billion per year, or more than 15% of the total public expenditure on health and social care.  The NHS also spends £5.8 billion pounds a year treating illness caused by a bad diet. By investing in good food in hospitals, the NHS can potentially help to alleviate the future costs of treatment.

fresh food in school

What needs to be done?

The new Government should commit to delivering a ‘radical upgrade in prevention and public health’ by prioritising the food served in hospitals – every hospital should become a ‘beacon of good food’, putting in place an ambitious food and drink strategy. Hospitals should be health-promoting environments for both patients and staff and this should be demonstrated through all food outlets across all hospital sites.

The dietary health of older people in hospitals, as well as in the community and in care settings, should be prioritised. Better nutrition for older people, along with access to appetising, nutritious food and social contact at mealtimes, can help prevent hospital admissions and alleviate the strain on the health and social care system.

southmead hospital

What are we doing to help?

Our Food for Life programme offers a series of packages for NHS trusts which support the delivery of key national policy initiatives including the mandatory ‘Healthy food for NHS staff, visitor and patients’ CQUIN and the development of a food and drink strategy.

The Food for Life Hospital Network offers a solution for trusts who want to be industry leaders in the area of health promotion and food experience – for patients, staff, visitors and the wider community. 

The Food for Life Catering Mark provides a robust framework and inspected award designed to help hospitals make sure that staff, visitor and patient food is ethical, sustainable and fresh, free from nasty additives and transfats and meets nutritional guidelines.

How can I take action?

You can help by asking your local MP what they are doing to ensure soil protection is a top priority for food and farming policy - and sending them a copy of this article. We’d love to hear what they say, so please do drop us an email to let us know.

You can also join us in making good food the easy choice for everyone by becoming a member today.

If you’d like to know more of our general election priorities, or you would like to stay up to date with other food and farming policy, you can visit our Food and Farming Policy Hub.