Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that standards for NHS hospital food are being put in place, to provide healthy and appetising meals for patients without medical insurance.
More than 30 million hospital meals are left uneaten every year, and a survey by The Campaign for Better Hospital Food has shown that 67% of NHS hospital staff would be unhappy to eat the food they serve to their patients.
Now, after an inquest revealed that neglect by medical staff led to the death of a hospital patient who called 999 because he was so thirsty, the Health Secretary has created a set of standards for hospital food.
He warned that while some organisations are delivering decent food and drink, many NHS hospitals are failing to provide suitable, healthy and appetising meals for patients.
The new standards state that NHS hospitals must provide:
- Nutritious and appetising food and drink
- A varied menu which includes meals suitable for all religious needs
- Access to fresh drinking water at all times
- Food and drink that is available at all times
- Food that adheres to the Government Buying Standards for Food that is sustainable and locally produced where possible.
In addition, catering staff should reduce the fat and salt content in food and introduce more fruit and vegetables.
NHS hospitals will be inspected to ensure they are adhering to the guidelines, with half of the team of inspectors made up of patients themselves, examining the taste, quality and temperature of food as well as cleanliness of ward kitchens. Jeremy Hunt said:
"They have the right to expect food that is of high quality and healthy - and that it has been prepared in a clean kitchen.”
British Dietetic Association honorary chair Helen Davidson, added: "Malnutrition should not be, but is, a very real and current problem within the UK population that needs urgent attention. Improving hospital food is part of the solution."
Many private hospitals offer daily menus with fresh homemade food cooked on site for patients with medical insurance. Use our free searchable hospital database to find out which policy will cover your chosen private hospital.
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