It goes without saying that nobody particularly looks forward to the prospect of a stay in hospital, no matter how brief – and the general standard if hospital food doesn’t do much to lift most patient’s spirits. And recent statistics show that unsatisfactory hospital meals are having a widespread effect on the environment at large, a thought that’s sure to leave an unpleasant taste in one’s mouth.
NHS hospitals in the UK serve about 300 million meals to patients on an annual basis; this means that the purchase and preparation of food has a significant cost. When you consider that approximately 10% (30 million) of these meals are left uneaten and thrown away every year, it’s easy to see that a great deal of these resources is currently going to waste. An initiative titled the Campaign for Better Hospital Food is calling for the UK Government to start setting compulsory standards for meals served in hospitals.
In order to secure acceptable standards in the preparation of hospital food, the campaign wants to see health care officials tackle the following areas:
Only four in ten hospitals cook meals from scratch and serve them fresh; the rest provide pre-made, re-heated meals that are less healthy and less popular among patients. If more hospitals are required to cook and prepare fresh meals, less food is likely to go to waste.
The campaign suggests that the government should require hospitals to serve healthy, highly nutritious food that will actively contribute to the recovery and wellbeing of the patients in their care. The provision of healthier food for guests and staff is also recommended.
Animal Welfare Standards & Fish Standards
The Campaign for Better Hospital Food also wants all hospitals to ensure that the meat, dairy products and eggs used in the preparation of these meals adhere to humane standards. This includes free range eggs and meat products that meet RSPCA welfare standards. Fish used in the preparation of hospital food should be sustainably sourced.
Environmental Standards & Fair Trade Standards
The campaign advises that hospital food be sourced and prepared in an ethical, eco-friendly manner. In addition, this food should be sourced in a way that promoted fair trade standards, such as fair pay and good working conditions for agricultural workers producing the raw ingredients.
Support and Success
The campaign has gathered widespread support from organisations throughout the UK, including the British Heart Foundation, the Health Education Trust, the Marine Stewardship Council, the RSPCA and the World Wildlife Fund. In October, the Department of Health responded to the campaign with a new list of rules and principals designed to improve the quality of hospital food throughout the country.
Nicky Warner is an experienced blogger based in the UK; she has interviewed numerous people with health care careers and health economics jobs, who have voiced their support for raising the standards of health care and better hospital meals for their patients and staff.