Every year, the NHS spends about £600 million on food and catering services, mostly in hospitals. But hospital food is often considered to be of poor quality, and the hospital retail environment unhealthy.
There is an urgent need to improve the quality of hospital food for patients, visitors and staff to make it more healthy and sustainable.
Unappealing food leads to high wastage and higher levels of malnutrition. Better hospital food leads to shorter hospital stays and healthier, happier patients and staff.
Join our movement to demand better hospital food
Medact’s campaign to improve hospital food centres around a report on the current state of hospital food policy and environments, plus a campaigning toolkit filled with ideas, inspiration and actions for local campaigners.
What is the current state of Hospital Food?
Concerns about the quality of hospital food have been prevalent for many years.
Hospitals should be health promoting institutes, providing a food environment that is both healthy and sustainable, for all those who encounter it. But the food procured and served in hospitals also has wider social, economic and environmental impacts – which are themselves determinants of health. For example, a number of hospitals currently feature fast food outlets, selling foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.
We are starting to see some progress towards this, with the inclusion of legally binding hospital food standards in the NHS hospital commissioning contract. And the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, stating a commitment to improve food for NHS staff.
The greatest progress however is being seen at a local level, with a few hospitals leading the way by exceeding the new hospital guidelines and demonstrating how hospitals can procure and provide local and sustainably produced food – good examples can be seen in Nottingham and the North Midlands.
Whilst all of this is promising, there is a long way to go.
Medact’s Hospital Food campaign
Medact is working with Sustain and the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, as well as other organisations, to catalyse faster and greater improvements in the way hospital food is procured and provided – to promote healthier, more sustainable and ethical food production and consumption, in and around hospitals.
We are doing this through national campaigns, to improve the quality and implementation of hospital food standards, as well as at a local level, through individual hospital campaigns.
Join with Medact to improve Hospital Food
If you are interested in improving the health and sustainability of your local hospital’s food environment, please get in touch.