By Nigel Forbes, Managing Partner at The Litmus Partnership
The Hospital Food Review Report was published at the end of October 2020, which revealed the results of a working group study into hospital catering and how improvements can be made.
The NHS is the second biggest provider of meals to the UK public and in 2018-2019 spent £634 million on hospital food, serving 141 million inpatient meals last year alone. It’s a huge undertaking and what makes it even more complex is that there is no one solution that works for all hospitals.
Nutrition and the impact this can have on our health has been well known for years. Although the Report found over half of patients rated hospital food either good or very good, less than four out of ten NHS staff felt the same and felt the food and catering facilities offered in their workplace is poor.
As a result of the Report, there is a renewed focus to help NHS Trusts improve the quality of their patient and staff catering.
However, there is no straightforward answer. Healthcare is a sector that Litmus specialises in and every NHS Trust we’ve ever worked with has faced unique challenges when it comes to their catering provision. The condition of buildings, infrastructure and facilities, space availability, proximity of the main kitchen to the wards, a range of differing local circumstances – all of these factors impact on the food quality that is presented to patients and staff.
Equally it’s not only ward and staff food that hospitals provide - visitors’ needs must be met appropriately within the whole food environment including on-site shops, cafes, canteens and vending machines. There is a lot to consider.
The Report made eight recommendations for system-level change which are proposed to be taken forward by an expert group with representation from across the sector and government. Working and learning together will result in better success for everyone. It’s this collaborative approach that we believe will help all NHS Trusts across the country improve their catering offering in terms of both food quality and cost management. This group will advise, guide and help NHS Trusts implement changes to better improve the catering at their sites.
For further information on Litmus and our work within the healthcare sector please visit: https://litmuspartnership.co.uk/sectors/healthcare/