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Scotland publishes hospital nutrition review

Nutrition must be given a 'high priority' says BMA

OnMedica Staff

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A comprehensive review of hospital food in Scotland has been published for the first time.

The review notes that 80% of Health Boards meet the nutritional needs for the general hospital population, with 97% providing a good range of food types.

However only 75% met the requirements for therapeutic diet provision (providing modified diets to assist with particular conditions), although 94% complied with special and personal diets that were flexible to people's cultural and religious preferences.

The next step of the £1.5 million plan to improve catering services in hospitals includes the rollout of a new "nutritional database". The database will allow boards to analyse recipes to ensure meals are nutritionally balanced and match patients' individual needs.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon said: "For the first time this report shows us the nutritional ratings achieved by the NHS and provides a standard against which progress can be measured. This gives us a standard to measure improvements in hospital food across Scotland.

"Every patient has the right to expect decent, nutritious food when they are in hospital and we are committed to providing patients with the best nutritional care possible.

"By this time next year I expect all health boards to achieve over 90% for every one of the food standards."

The nutritional database and compliance reports are two elements of a comprehensive programme for improving nutritional care in hospitals which was established in 2008 backed by £1.5 million to support the implementation of the NHS Quality Improvement Scotland Clinical Standards for Food, Fluid and Nutrition in Hospitals.

Responding to the National Catering and Nutritional Services Specification: Half Yearly Compliance Report, Dr Sally Winning, Deputy Chairman of the British Medical Association's Scottish Council said: "Good nutrition is crucial when patients are recovering from illness. Hospitals must ensure that what they serve up is both healthy and palatable.

"However, while getting the menu right is important, it is by no means the only challenge. We also need to ensure that patients – particularly the elderly - get the help they need to eat their meals. Nutrition has to be given a high priority in terms of the amount of staff time devoted to it.”

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