Hospitals providing 'inadequate' catering
Published on 16 October 2012 11:30 AM
The Health Secretary has introduced a new set of standards to ensure that hospital patients receive nutritious and appetising food throughout their stay.
Jeremy Hunt recently warned that some NHS hospitals are 'falling short' when it comes to providing patients with high quality, healthy meals.
The set of standards come 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.
Kane Gorny, 22, from Balham, south London, died of dehydration at St George's Hospital, in Tooting, in May 2009.
Age UK, the Patients Association and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) teamed up with the Government to drive up standards.
'Patients should be treated with dignity and respect'
'Patients should be treated with dignity and respect,' said Mr Hunt.
'They have the right to expect food that is of high quality and healthy - and that it has been prepared in a clean kitchen.
'There are lots of hospitals already doing this, but in some places, the NHS falls short.'
One necessity under the new standards is that patients must have access to fresh drinking water at all times, unless it contradicts clinical advice.
Making sure food and drink is available at all times of the day is also high on the list of standards.
Hunt wants to see meals suitable for religious needs
In addition, Mr Hunt wants to see patients have the choice of a varied menu - including meals suitable for religious needs - and catering staff reduce the fat and salt content in food, introducing more fruit and vegetables.
Inspections will be carried out by teams of inspectors - half of whom will be patients - to ensure that hospitals are adhering to the guidance. Checks will include examining the taste, quality and temperature of food as well as the cleanliness of ward kitchens.
A good balanced diet is essential to older people in hospital
Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director-General, welcomed these moves to improve hospital food, underlining that a good balanced diet is essential for older people in hospital to have a speedy recovery. But she emphasised that making sure older people get all the nutrition they need is about more than just 'making sure that all the different food groups are on a plate.'
She commented, 'Food needs to be appealing, especially because many people can experience a lack of appetite when they are not feeling well.
'Also hospital staff need to make sure that older people get any assistance they need in eating and drinking by making sure the food is within easy reach and takes into account any physical or mental limitations to eating that they might have.
'Age UK has been working for a long time to make sure that older people eat well in hospital and we hope that these latest proposals help improve the situation.'
Copyright Press Association 2012