The principles set out what patients can expect from good NHS hospital food:
- nutritious and appetising hospital food and drink is essential
- patients get a choice from a varied menu – including meals suitable for religious needs
- all patients should have access to fresh drinking water at all times, unless it contradicts clinical advice
- food and drink should be available at all times, not just planned mealtimes
- hospitals should promote healthy diets to staff and visitors
- the Government Buying Standards for Food should be adopted as standard whenever possible
- hospitals should regularly evaluate their food service and act on feedback from patients
- the NHS as a whole should look for and reward excellence in hospital food.
The principles are supported by Age UK, Patients Association, Hospital Caterers Association, Royal College of Nursing, Soil Association, British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and the British Dietetic Association.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Hospital food can often have a very significant impact on the speed of recovery, susceptibility to infection and mental and physical wellbeing. Hospital food doesn’t just need to be healthy – it also needs to be fresh and enticing enough to tempt patients who may not feel hungry.”
New patient-led assessments of the care environment will assess hospitals against these principles, while also looking at cleanliness, privacy and dignity as well as the state of the hospital environment in general.