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NHS takes Loyd Grossman off the menu

February 12, 2002 12:00 AM

According to new research, only 35% of hospitals have adopted the menus set out by celebrity chef Loyd Grossman, despite Department of Health guidance stating that they must be in place by January 2002.

Launched in May 2001, The 'Better Hospital Food Programme' set out six standards which trusts should implement. These included ward kitchens, snack boxes and the new menu format.

Yet the findings show:

• Only 35% of hospitals have adopted Loyd Grossman's new menu format.

• Less than half of all hospitals allow patients to move their main meal to a time that is more convenient.

• Less than half of hospitals provide a snack box facility.

Paul Burstow MP said:

"Alan Milburn announced to great fanfare that £40 million would be spent overhauling the provision of hospital food. Take-up of this initiative shows it to be nothing more than a Government gimmick at the expense of ward workload."

"Improving NHS food is only part of the equation. Some patients, particularly the elderly who need help with feeding, are left to cope on their own because there's insufficient staff to assist."

"The Government has got to realise that there are fundamental problems blocking the take-up of this initiative. Tailoring the provision of food to suit the needs of patients is a laudable intention, but without additional staff and resources, it is simply another time consuming chore for nurses who are already over stretched."

ENDS

Notes to editors follows

Notes to editors:-

• The 'Better Hospital Food Programme' was launched in March 2001 and set a deadline of January 2002 to have 24-hour catering in place at all acute hospitals. The menus and guidance for better hospital food was launched in May in a £40 million government drive to revamp NHS food. This included Snack boxes, ward kitchens, the opportunity to move the main meal to a different time, the Lloyd Grossman menu format, a lead chef and additional snacks, all designed to improve nutrition standards in hospitals. The table below is for all hospitals. A breakdown by region and acute/non acute hospitals is available on request.

Acute Hospitals Non acute hospitals Total %age met guidance

Number of acute hospitals/region 345 601 946

Snack boxes

(December 2001) 189 237 426 45.03

Ward kitchens

(2004) 201 435 636 67.23

Move main meal

(December 2001) 184 235 419 44.29

Menu format

(December 2001) 108 224 332 35.09

Leading chef

(December 2001) 170 338 508 53.69

Additional snacks

(December 2001) 195 426 621 65.64

Parliamentary answer [24040]

What is meant by a ward kitchen service?

This is meant to be a 'round the clock' service available at ward level. It is designed to provide hot and cold drinks and light refreshments such as toast and cakes and fruit, which can be kept at ward level and prepared quickly and easily. Patients should be able to request something from this service at any time.

What is the 'snack box'?

A snack box should be available on request to patients who have missed their meal from the normal service due to e.g. absence for treatment or tests or because the time of their admission means they have not had the opportunity of a meal. In addition, it is meant to be available as an alternative for patients who would prefer something lighter

What is the leading chef initiative?

Loyd Grossman led a panel of seven chefs from the hotel and restaurant sector. These chefs have completed visits to 19 hospital sites across the country. The visits enabled the chefs to assess the standards of food quality and methods of production and delivery, and to understand the issues in NHS catering, before starting work on the design of the new dishes and recipes. In November 2001nurses at Blackburn, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Health Care Trust in Lancashire said the new menus are not working and are even worse than before and that the food at Blackburn had been described as slop.

Element South West London Eastern South East Northern and Yorkshire Northwestern Trent West Midlands

Acute

Number of acute hospitals/region 41 46 35 63 52 46 26 36

Snack boxes 20 25 15 33 28 28 20 20

Ward kitchens 22 24 14 38 31 26 22 24

Move main meal 16 34 7 31 34 24 17 21

Menu format 11 19 5 10 22 16 6 19

Leading chef 16 27 16 21 29 26 18 17

Additional snacks 15 29 19 37 23 26 21 25

Non-acute and PCT

Number of non-acute hospitals/region 117 69 62 105 67 56 62 63

Snack boxes 71 16 31 33 28 27 11 20

Ward kitchens 100 50 53 73 40 38 30 51

Move main meal 51 34 23 23 35 18 22 29

Menu format 56 18 15 45 28 4 20 38

Leading chef 71 35 35 55 45 27 37 33

Additional snacks 89 56 42 70 42 14 55 58

All Acute Hospitals (360) London Region (54) Midlands/Eastern Region (90) Northern (121) Southern (95)

Number Per cent Number Per cent Number Per cent Number Per cent Number Per cent

Ward Kitchen Services 256 71.5 38 70.4 65 72.2 85 70.2 68 71.6

Snack Box Services 210 58.7 32 59.3 44 48.9 71 58.7 63 66.3

Additional Snacks 183 51.1 31 57.4 37 41.1 59 48.8 56 58.9

Main Meal Evening 280 78.2 46 85.2 70 77.8 96 79.3 68 71.6

Leading Chef 142 40 21 38.9 22 24.4 52 43 47 49.5