Further investment in NHS catering will achieve the government's aim of improving public services, reducing burdens on the NHS from malnutrition and bolster the UK's vital catering industry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. This is the view of the British Dietetics Association (BDA) in its response to the Comprehensive Spending Review consultation.
The BDA wants to see ring-fenced funding for every NHS hospital for catering so the average spend per head on food can be significantly increased and the tendency for patient food to be one of the first areas to be cut back under financial pressures removed. This tendency is compounded by the positioning of catering as estates and facilities rather than a key part of treatment and recovery.
It also recommends capital funding for hospitals to upgrade catering facilities, eating areas and on-ward preparation areas; funding for staff to assist with eating and drinking; and funding for every hospital or Trust to have access to a specialist catering dietitian, which it says, will cost in the region of £4m per annum.
The BDA makes further recommendations around addressing malnutrition both in care and in the community and extending/modifying the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.
On malnutrition, the BDA suggests investing in screening for malnutrition in the community, care settings and hospitals as well as investing in community dietetic and nutrition teams and providing funding to reverse cuts to community food services, such as Meals on Wheels.
On the Soft Drinks Industry Levy the BDA would like to see the threshold lowered to 4.5g of sugar per 100g for all drinks and for milky drinks with added sugar to be included within the levy.