NHS still needs to improve on hospital food

Maria AdediranPress Officer
January 23, 2015, 11:52 AM GMT+0

The ‘Hospital Catering 2015’ report continues to examine the opinions and attitudes of consumers who have experienced hospital food as patients, visitors or staff. The report looks to assess shifts in the perceptions of quality of the food.

There seems to be some positive perception towards food served in NHS hospitals. Almost four in ten (39%) NHS patients / visitors agree that hospital food is “very good considering it doesn’t have to be paid for”. However, respondents also feel that the meals given to patient are not tasty (43%) and should be more nutritious (62%). Additionally, a third (33%) think that the quality of food served in private hospitals is much better, even though nearly half (48%) responded “Don’t know / not applicable”.

The research also shows that 63% of private hospital users agree that the quality of food is much better in private hospitals. Despite this, there are some signs of concern. More than half (51%) of private hospital users agree that “hospital food for patients should be more nutritious” and 32% think that “the food given to patients isn’t very tasty”.

Overall, NHS hospital users are more likely to select negative statements when considering food served by the NHS. The most popular words used to associate with their meals are “unappetising”, “cheap” and “processed”. By contrast, private hospital users are more likely to describe hospital meals with positive words such as “well-balanced”, “tasty” and “healthy”.

Hospital staff (who predominantly work in NHS hospitals) also share a similar view as patients/visitors. Despite the high level of usage of hospital canteen/cafeteria by hospital staffs (53%), only 16% agree that they are enjoyable to eat in. This is also evident when considering the number of staff who say they prefer to bring their own food to the hospital (64%). However, this may be less to do with the food available but reflect the dislike of having to eat alongside patients/visitors (41%).

James McCoy, Research Director for YouGov Reports, commented on the findings: “Hospital food continues to be a topic of discussion in the UK media, with reports that patients are not being provided with quality nutritious food. However, there are mixed messages about food in NHS hospitals. While 2 in 5 say that NHS hospital food is ‘very good considering you don’t have to pay for it’, a similar proportion say the food given to patients isn’t very tasty. This shows that it’s not all viewed as horrible, providing something for NHS hospitals to build upon.

“The research also shows that there is a low level of awareness of the proposed regulations that have been put in place to improve standards. This lack of awareness suggests that hospitals may need to focus on reassuring people that these new standards have been put in place and will not be ignored”.

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