This week the government published a report of the independent review of NHS hospital food, with several key recommendations that align with UNISON’s demands.
One major recommendation, supported by UNISON, is for funding to upgrade existing hospital kitchens and for the provision of ward kitchens, so all healthcare workers have access to food made on-site and when unavailable, their own meal preparation facilities at all times.
UNISON has long been campaigning for better hospital food, in recognition that hard-working hospital staff need high-quality, nutritious and affordable food to support their stressful and demanding jobs.
UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “We welcome the government’s commitment to take forward recommendations made by the independent review panel, but that must translate into real funding across the system for improved staffing and facilities.”
She continued: “UNISON’s Better Hospital Food campaign has been calling for enforced food standards to ensure 24-hour availability of high quality, freshly prepared meals. We know how hard catering staff work daily so they will be pleased to see the need for investment in recognition, pay progression and training has been identified.”
The recommendations put forward by the government also include:
- celebrating catering staff with training and pay progression using NHS Agenda for Change pay bands.
- food and drink standards for patients, staff and visitors, which are enforced by the Care Quality Commission.
- implementation of food waste reduction plans across NHS trusts.
The report’s recommendation to create an expert group, including dieticians, to oversee progress, signals positive change ahead for the future of hospital food.
However, UNISON’s campaign is far from over, and the union will continue to put pressure on government to follow through and deliver on these promises.
The full report and recommendations are available here.