Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



Royal Voluntary Service takes early action on NHS workforce health reform

Older people’s charity, Royal Voluntary Service, is taking an early lead on the NHS workforce health and wellbeing drive by pledging to transform its 500+ hospital cafés, shops and trolley services into hubs for healthy eating.



The charity is responding to a new framework for healthcare buildings introduced by the Scottish Government and is planning to adopt it across its entire UK retail estate. Renowned dietician and nutritionist Dr. Mabel Blades has advised Royal Voluntary Service on this major change programme and suppliers are working with the charity to adapt products to meet the tough new mandatory standards ahead of their coming into force in Scotland in Spring 2017. 



Staff, patients and visitors will all benefit from the Healthy Living initiative which will see the phased introduction of new menus and healthy, nutritious options at fair prices across its hospital locations.  New-look Royal Voluntary Service cafés will offer a wide range of healthy fruit and nut snacks, soups and broths, freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, stews and seasonal dishes using local produce, and allergy, intolerance and health condition-friendly items.  Space for unhealthy items like crisps, confectionery and sugary drinks will be dramatically reduced.  


Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s National Medical Director, comments: “We have pledged to lead by example in terms of the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce, and to encourage healthy eating. So we welcome this move by Royal Voluntary Service to transform its hospital cafés, shops and trolley services into healthy eating hubs.”


The first flagship new-look café will open at Royal Bournemouth Hospital in Dorset in early 2016, followed by a new concept store at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. The full roll-out of the programme in England, Scotland and Wales is likely to be complete by March 2017. 



Royal Voluntary Service is the biggest retailer in hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales and has been an integral part of the NHS since its inception in 1948.  Run by an army of 13,000 trained, caring volunteers and staff, Royal Voluntary Service cafés, shops and trolley services fund the charity’s work supporting vulnerable older people in hospitals, in their homes and in the community. Hospital retail operations showed a turnover of £45 million in 2013-14.



As well as serving healthy new food and drink options, volunteers and staff in the new-look cafés, shops and trolley services will continue to provide support and advice to patients and visitors about hospital and community services available to older people. Royal Voluntary Service provides a raft of older person’s services including Home from Hospital, Community Transport, Books on Wheels and Good Neighbours as well as running social centres and lunch clubs.   



Leading this ambitious retail transformation plan is Kate Bull, Executive Director of Retail at Royal Voluntary Service.



Commenting on the Healthy Living initiative she says: “Workforce health is a major priority for NHS England and it’s imperative that the food and drink options for hospital staff and visitors are healthy and nutritious. As a responsible retailer and NHS partner, we recognise that to make a difference, our food and drink offer must change. Our unique relationship with many hospitals means we can work quickly to deliver positive and healthy changes to the way NHS staff and hospital visitors eat and drink, while ploughing funds back into improving support services for older people.”



She continues: “Our hospital retail locations have always been important places for comfort, support and advice, both for older people and for those providing care and support to older people. We’re committed to continuing that tradition with the introduction of our new healthy eating offer and welcome the opportunity to help more hospitals tackle the NHS workforce health agenda in this way.”   



Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, adds: “In Scotland we’re working hard to increase the amount of healthy food on offer in hospitals with the requirement that all caterers and retailers meet certain standards by 31 March 2017.  It shouldn’t be difficult to find a healthy snack, meal or drink when working in or visiting a hospital. As the largest food retailer in our hospitals, Royal Voluntary Service is obviously an important partner in these efforts, and I’m pleased to see them playing such a proactive role in offering more healthy choices.”



Royal Voluntary Service is the largest provider of refreshments in the NHS and recently announced a partnership with Coffee Republic to provide a premium Italian Roast in 150 of its hospital café locations.