BSNA members welcome the Independent Review of NHS Hospital Food's report and its recognition that ensuring patients are properly fed and hydrated is a vital part of treatment and recovery for all patients.

Published today, the Hospital Food Review report makes recommendations on how NHS trusts can prioritise food safety and provide more nutritious meals to both staff and patients.

The review was undertaken as a result of the food safety issues exposed by the listeria poisonings at a number of hospitals in the North West of England in 2019.

The government announced it will establish an expert group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses to take forward the recommendations made in the report. These include:

  • upgrading hospital kitchens so a 24/7 service can be provided to everyone; from a hot drink and a snack in the middle of the night to a hot meal for new mums in a maternity ward or for patients hungry after a long fast due to surgery
  • introducing digital menus and food ordering systems which can factor in a patient’s dietary and cultural requirements, and nutritional needs.
  • agreeing national professional standards for NHS chefs with mandatory professional development, including appropriate compulsory food hygiene and allergen training
  • increase the role of nurses, dietitians, caterers and staff wellbeing leads in overseeing food services so that nutritious meals are part of a patient’s recovery plan

Commenting on the review, BSNA Director General, Declan O’Brien said:

“It is vital to take an holistic view of the patient. An appropriately nourished patient - be that intravenous, tube feed, oral nutritional supplement or good quality general food depending on the condition of the patient - is starting from a point of advantage highlighting the critical role of nutrition in the patient pathway.”

The report points to the significant proportion of hospital patients who are nutritionally vulnerable, with 30% of patients admitted to hospital at risk of malnutrition and admissions for malnutrition rising rapidly.

Declan further commented:

“Ensuring access to nutritious, appetising food in hospital is key. It is also part of a wider pathway of good nutritional care which can reduce hospital admissions, aid recovery and help manage long term conditions.

“The review represents a positive step towards a holistic approach to good nutritional care and BSNA members urge health leaders and Government to implement the review's recommendations as part of a complete nutritional pathway, from dietary advice and support to the provision of specialist nutrition for those patients who require it.”