The responsibility for hospital food standards officially passed from the Department of Health (DH) to NHS Improvement (NHSI) in February 2017 - despite no-one being in post to take on the work.
The Campaign for Better Hospital Food is concerned that this move from DH to NHSI means the government could slam on the brakes in the process of improving and driving up these food standards in policy.
We were also worried to note that the team at NHSI was not yet in place to take on the work when the previous DH team in charge of hospital food standards was disbanded.
So we responded in late January 2017 by writing a letter, co-signed by 15 other organisations, to ask Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, to provide reassurance that hospital food is still a priority, and ask him to commit to preserve and develop existing hospital food standards as well as working towards increasing food quality, ethical supplies and environmental sustainability in hospital catering.
We have now received a response. In summary, DH said that the move to NHSI signals a commitment to hospital food and that Jeremy will arrange a meeting with Diane Jeffrey, Chair of the Hospital Food Standards Panel, to discuss the best way forward.
We remain concerned that the move to NHSI will mean that progessing policy change on hospital food - to include freshly cooked whole food with high quality sustainable ingredients, to encourage climate sensitive and higher welfare farming practices that are better for our land, seas and environment - will become harder to bring about.
However, it is encouraging that the Hospital Food Standards Panel will still be engaged with on hospital food policy in this way, as it was officially disbanded in january 2017. We hope this signals the start of a renewed revitalised Hospital Food Standards panel that will be able to progress radical change in hospital food.
Thanks so much to all the co-signing orgsanisations that participating in this action and co-signed this letter. We strongly believe that we have helped to make the point that we will not sit idly by whilst hospital food standards are de-prioritised.
Sustain annual conference - 8 December
Published 20 Feb 2017
Better Hospital Food: The campaign represents a coalition of organisations calling on the Westminster government to introduce mandatory nutritional, environmental and ethical standards for food served to patients in NHS hospitals in England.
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