CATERING FIRMS will be hauled in front of the NHS England board and told to offer up healthier choices in the country’s hospitals.
Fast food chains operating on hospital sites, including Burger King, Greggs and Costa Coffee, could also be squeezed out as part of a £5m plan to improve the health and wellbeing of staff, visitors and patients.
The move – announced this week by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens – will also see the NHS push contractors to provide “easily understandable nutritional information and appropriate portion sizes”. In a speech in Manchester Stevens also gave a nod, but little more, to the Government Buying Standards.
“It’s time for PFI contractors and catering firms to smell the coffee – ditch junk food from hospitals and serve up affordable and healthy options instead,” he explained.
This hard line approach hasn’t come as a surprise. In May, Stevens referred to obesity as “the new smoking” in a BBC interview and called for more reformulation of sugary foods and drinks. He has also suggested a hike in the price of unhealthy products.
How his new plans affect the contracts already in place is unclear. Another question is whether NHS Trusts have the power to force the likes of Costa Coffee to change their menus. Ten local NHS organisations have signed up to spearhead the initiative.