Patients must be served healthy food that meet stringent standards (but only if they live in WALES)
Welsh patients will receive at least seven drinks a day and have snacks available 24 hours a dayEnglish hospitals do not have to meet even minimum standards
Hospital patients in Wales are to be served healthy food that meets mandatory nutritional standards next year – but England will not follow suit, campaigners said today.
NHS patients in Wales will receive meals that limits the amount of saturated fat and salt but provides plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables.
Food for thought: Nutritious meals are essential to patient recovery
Patients must receive seven to eight drinks per day, water jugs must be changed three times a day and snacks must be available 24 hours a day.
All hospitals have been told they must implement the standards, which are being phased in from January, and must be completely in place by 2013.
However, no such criteria has been set for hospitals in England. It follows the news that more than one in 10 patients rate hospital food as poor, according to a survey of more than 60,000 NHS patients.
The Good Food for Our Money campaign is now calling on Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to follow Wales” lead and implement a system in England.
The campaign is a coalition of groups including the National Heart Forum, Patient Concern and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
A poll of 1,000 people for the group found 84 per cent thought hospitals in England should have to meet minimum standards too.
Some 72 per cent were unaware English hospitals do not have to meet minimum standards.
Support: The Prince of Wales, Patron of the Soil Association hosted a reception this month for hospitals who are serving local, organic food to their patients on a budget. Pictured with TV chef James Martin
Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Good Food for Our Money campaign, said: “Introducing legally binding standards for hospital food in England is the simplest and most effective way to improve patients” meals.
“It”s unacceptable that hospital patients in Wales will be guaranteed healthy meals but patients in England will not.
“Andrew Lansley must listen to the people and introduce these standards as a matter of urgency.”
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Patients in hospital need every support to get better and back to their families as soon as possible.
“A healthy and nutritional meal is one of the key steps on the road to recovery.
“Patients must be given nutritionally balanced and healthy meals as standard when in hospital.
“Wales is leading the way when it comes to free prescription charges and it is excellent they are guaranteeing healthy meals in their hospitals.
“Andrew Lansley needs to sit up and take notice and make these initiatives apply in England.”
The Prince of Wales, who is Patron of the Soil Association, showed his support for nutritious hospital meals this month by hosting a reception for hospitals who are serving local, organic food on a budget.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “Hospitals must provide good food and the help needed to eat it – it”s an essential part of hospital care.
“We have set binding standards – good hydration and nutrition is a condition of a hospital”s registration with the regulator, the Care Quality Commission.
“We have also introduced Government Buying Standards, which hospitals must consider when planning food services.
“The amount of money hospitals are spending on food has gone up over the past five years, and waste is going down.
“Many trusts have excellent food and are serving healthy, fresh meals to their patients whilst staying within budget.
“These trusts set a precedent for others to follow and the whole NHS should be learning from the best trusts.”
Earlier this year chef Lloyd Grossman accused NHS bosses of thwarting his attempts to reform hospital meals.
The food specialist headed a 40million revamp of NHS menus amid great fanfare in 2000, pledging to replace soggy sprouts and lumpy custard with healthy and tasty dishes.
But the initiative was scrapped just five years later, after Mr Grossman left in frustration at the lack of progress.
Grossman, who was not paid for his involvement in the initiative, told Channel 4: ‘It seemed so obvious and it still seems so obvious that if you give patients better food they will be happier, they will heal more quickly.
‘There was kind of a prejudice against common sense.”