Refreshed guidelines to improve nutrition.
Scotland's NHS has published refreshed and extended nutritional guidelines for hospital food to ensure all patients get the best possible nourishment.
A consultation has also been launched on whether these guidelines should be made legally binding – a move which would be a first for the UK.
Food in Hospitals 2016, published by NHS Health Facilities Scotland, is a revision of previous guidelines from 2008. It sets out nutrition and catering criteria for patients in hospitals.
It also gives information on how the guidelines can be met, through assessments of the patients' dietary needs menu planning and practical suggestions on food choices suitable for different dietary needs.
The revised guidelines include:
• A new section to cover food in children's hospitals and wards, including nutrition standards for specific age groups, and guidance on portion sizes and appropriate kitchenware
• New guidance on the provision of hospital food and fluid based on updated research and guidance from experts
• Updated guidance on food allergens
• Guidance on the importance of audit and monitoring of standards
The consultation is asking for views on whether these guidelines should be placed on a statutory footing, as school meals are. This would mean NHS boards would have a legal obligation to ensure that minimum nutritional standards are adhered to.
Minister for Public Health Maureen Watt said:
"Scotland has very good standards of nutrition in hospitals and we have well established guidelines. This refreshed version develops and strengthens the existing guidelines, to ensure that patients are getting even better nutritious meals while they are in hospitals.
"Today we are also publishing a consultation to ask for views on making these guidelines legally binding. This would give hospital food the same status as school meals. If we decide to go down this path we would be the first UK country to take this step."
Food in Hospitals: National catering and nutrition specification for food and fluid provision in hospitals in Scotland can be read in full here: http://www.hfs.scot.nhs.uk/publications/1458641294-415601_Food_p4.pdf
Consultation on Food in Hospitals can be found here: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/chief-nursing-officer-directorate/nutritional-standards-of-food