HRH THE Prince of Wales today hosted a reception, which celebrated improvements in hospital food in England.
Providing good, nutritious hospital food for patients has been highlighted in newly-published key guidance (known as CQUINs) for NHS commissioners and hospitals will now be encouraged to ensure their food meets standards, such as the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark.
Dr Michael Dixon, president of the NHS Clinical Commissioners commented: ‘The introduction of a national quality incentive for hospitals to provide good food, sends a message that proper nutrition in hospitals cannot be separated from the provision of good biomedical care.’
The reception, which took place at Clarence House and was co-hosted by the Soil Association and Department of Health (DH), was a chance for The Prince of Wales – who is patron of the Soil Association – to hear about the good work already being done in many hospitals across the NHS. HRH also spoke about the importance of good quality hospital food and his commitment to supporting these changes.
The inclusion of hospital food in these new incentive payments for NHS trusts, also known as CQUINs, is a milestone for the NHS. The Hospital Food Exemplar CQUIN, initially announced in December 2013, is a new opportunity for hospitals to be rewarded for meeting recommended food standards, such as the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark – which was launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2009 and now accredits more than 160million meals a year across schools, hospitals, nurseries, care homes and workplaces.
Joanna Lewis, Soil Association head of policy and member of the DH Hospital Food Standards Panel commented: ‘Good food is an integral part of patient care and this is a real turning point for hospital food. The CQUIN offers the chance for hospitals to improve the lives of their patients – some of the most vulnerable in society – by giving them good, nutritious and healthy food when they need it most.
‘Achieving the CQUIN by meeting food standards, like the Food for Life Catering Mark, is an opportunity for commissioners and NHS Trusts to take steps to make lasting improvements to the food they offer to patients.’
The event was attended by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), NHS Hospital Trusts and Health and Wellbeing Boards, including Dr Steven Cleasby, clinical vice chair, NHS Calderdale CCG, who, together with Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Trust, are the first to publicly announce they are planning to take forward the new hospital food CQUIN. Dr Cleasby commented: ‘We warmly welcome the new CQUIN and are confident it will lead to better quality hospital food for patients, visitors and staff. We are working closely with the Soil Association to see how best to implement this new initiative.’
In the second reading of the Health and Social Care (food amendment) Bill, Earl Howe, parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality, said: ‘Under the system of commissioning for quality and innovation, which we call CQUIN, commissioners can reward providers for delivering high food standards. For instance, providers might be rewarded for improving food quality, or meeting external standards such as those of the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark.’
As well as supporting the inclusion of the Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark in the CQUIN, the DH has also recently implemented Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE). PLACE will now ask all hospitals if they are working towards Food for Life Catering Mark accreditation, as part of assessments of their hospital food standards.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said: ‘It is crucial that patients receive tasty, nutritious food as part of their care. There is still too much variation in hospital food - we want all hospitals to raise their game and become as good as the best. That is why we implemented a tough new inspection programme, led by an army of thousands of patient assessors.
‘This new incentive is a positive step forward in making hospital food better. Along with our new patient-led inspection regime, it is great news for patients. It is also good to see the excellent work hospitals are already doing to improve food for their patients highlighted at events like today.’