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Hospitals failing on food now in breach of contract


29 August 2014

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Hospitals that fail to provide nutritious, appetising meals to patients would be in breach of their commissioning contract, the Department of Health has said. 
New rules mean that the NHS will have mandatory food standards. Hospitals will be ranked on food quality as part of a drive to raise the standard of hospital food. 
Five legally-binding food standards have been revealed by the Hospital Food Standards Panel. They include: 

Hospitals that fail to provide nutritious, appetising meals to patients would be in breach of their commissioning contract, the Department of Health has said. 
New rules mean that the NHS will have mandatory food standards. Hospitals will be ranked on food quality as part of a drive to raise the standard of hospital food. 
Five legally-binding food standards have been revealed by the Hospital Food Standards Panel. They include: 
 – Hospitals should screen patients for malnutrition and patients should have a food plan. 
 – Hospitals must take steps to ensure patients get the help they need to eat and drink, including initiatives such as protected meal times where appropriate.
 – Hospital canteens must promote healthy diets for staff and visitors – the food offered will need to comply with government recommendations on salt, saturated fats and sugar.
 – Food must be sourced in a sustainable way so that it is healthy, good for individuals and for our food industry.
If hospitals fail to meet these criteria commissioners will be able to take contractual action against them. 
The CQC will use a range of information, including the patient inspection data, to spot potential problems with food and to determine which hospitals need closer inspection of their food practices.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “It is time for the NHS set a clear example in providing healthier food for our patients, visitors and also our hardworking staff. That’s why NHS England has agreed to include hospital standards in the next NHS Contract, which will be published later this year.”
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said: “We are making the NHS more transparent, giving patients the power to compare food on wards and incentivising hospitals to raise their game. Many hospitals are already offering excellent food to their patients and staff. 
“But we want to know that all patients have nourishing and appetising food to help them get well faster and stay healthy, which is why we're introducing tough new mandatory standards for the first time ever.”
Dianne Jeffrey, chairman of Age UK and panel chair, said: “Getting hospital food and drink right is critical and should also be considered an important part of someone’s medical care. Malnutrition and dehydration pose a real risk for patients if they go unnoticed and untreated. We know malnourished people will take longer to recover and suffer from more complications. No hospital can afford to neglect this essential part of their care.
“I believe these recommendations will help busy hospital staff make sure patients get appetising and nutritious food that they want to eat and are given the help they need to do so.”

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