HOSPITALS WILL need to be given time to meet NHS England’s ambitious staff wellbeing plans.
Simon Stevens, the organisation’s chief executive, wants the country’s hospitals to “ditch junk food […] and serve up healthier options instead”. This could have serious implications for the 70 or more Trusts that now have a Costa, Greggs or WH Smith on site.
With lengthy and lucrative contracts already in place with these high street brands, Phil Shelley, chair of the Hospital Caterers Association, warned that the “horse has bolted a little bit”.
In an interview published in this month’s Footprint he added: “We should have looked at this years ago [and brought in] a consistent approach to what we sell. These companies have been on sites now for two years and it’ll be very difficult to change the pattern.”
Shelley, who also leads the catering services at Musgrove Park Hospital, part of Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, explained that those in PFI buildings will find it particularly difficult to turn away companies that bring in a regular income stream. “These companies are incredibly valuable to us as commercial partners, so we must work together,” he said.
There was also a warning for those currently discussing contracts with big high street brands. “We agreed [for our partners] to have the same prices as [they do on] the high street but there are some areas of really bad practice and service station prices. You have to agree the prices beforehand with these companies or they can take you to the cleaners.”
How NHS England’s new plan will affect the contracts already in place remains unclear. The other question is whether NHS Trusts have the power to force the likes of Costa to change their menus to include healthier options. Ten local NHS organisations have signed up to spearhead the initiative.