Imagine you’re in hospital recovering from an operation. Your appetite is returning and you eagerly anticipate a hot, tasty meal. You’re about to be sadly disappointed. What you DO receive, however, is a tired ensemble of food that a dog would turn its nose up at. Consequently, more than 80,000 hospital meals are left uneaten every day with hospital staff grudgingly admitting that even they would not eat what’s served up to patients. I know this to be true, as I was a nurse once; the food was lousy then and it is today. It’s a disgrace.
A government hospital food standards panel purportedly monitors progress, but when they invite food manufacturers to advise them on standards of provision, it’s akin to giving a bank robber the keys to the bloody vault. There are clear correlations between health and diet, yet most hospitals fail dismally to provide nourishing meals.
Food for patients, arguably the people most in need of good nutrition, is worse than that served to prison inmates. Why is that considered to be acceptable? What would it take to improve the meals patients’ can expect? What’s wrong with doing away with the over-processed crap that provides minimal sustenance and nutrition, and serving more healthy, filling options? It’s not impossible to achieve.
There are already hospitals that treat their patients as valued human beings, in the sound, common sense conviction that good food is good medicine. The Brompton hospital in London is one. Let’s hope the demand for change grows, especially when institutions like the Royal College of Physicians are now backing patients’ organisations and many others in the campaign for better hospital food. Everyone is, it seems, to want this to be so – except the government.