Campaign for Better Hospital Food

Food Quality of care

Robin Ireland, Chief Executive of the Health Equalities Group and a supporter of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food writes on today’s announcement that hospitals are to be forced to provide patients with healthier and better quality food

Taken at face value today’s Government announcement is to be welcomed- after all, the standard of hospital food has proven to be a long running issue for the NHS. Ask around your friends and relatives and it won’t be long before you’re offered tales of receiving poor quality and unhealthy food whilst in hospital.

However as with much public policy, the devil is in the detail. Once one examines today’s announcement in finer detail it quickly becomes apparent that the proposed improvements in hospital food may not be as they first appear. The food standards that the Government are introducing are weak and reflect basic catering and care standards which are already commonly implemented in the NHS- these are not the radical transformation in standards that are truly needed.

Equally the standards announced today may not be effectively monitored. The Government has only committed to including the standards in NHS commissioning contracts, which are long documents full of clauses that without proper enforcement and monitoring can be ignored by hospitals.

It is also alarming to find that the Government will be circumventing the democratic process by not putting the proposed food standards out to public consultation; meaning that only Hospital Food Panel members (including food manufacturers with a commercial interest in hospital food) have had any influence over them.

If we are to see a major improvement in hospital food standards we must be ensure that; standards are put out to public consultation; hospital food standards are enshrined in legislation so that they cannot be ignored by hospitals and are protected from commercial interests; an independent body is created that can review, monitor and support the implementation of the highest standards for hospital food.

You can find out more about the Campaign for Better Hospital Food and today’s announcement at