England to shun hospital food criteria

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Hospital patients in Wales will be served healthy food from next year but no such criteria have been set for England.

Campaigners yesterday revealed that NHS patients in Wales will receive meals based on mandatory nutritional standards, with limits on the amount of saturated fat and salt but plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables.

Patients must receive seven to eight drinks per day, water jugs must be changed three times a day and snacks must be available 24 hours a day.

All hospitals have been told they must implement the standards, which start being phased in next week, and must be completely in place by 2013.

The Good Food for Our Money campaign is now calling on Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to follow Wales’ lead and implement a system in England.

The campaign is a coalition of groups including the National Heart Forum, Patient Concern and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

A poll of 1,000 people for the group found 84 per cent thought hospitals in England should have to meet minimum standards too.

About 72 per cent were unaware that English hospitals do not have to meet minimum standards.

A campaign spokesman said: “Introducing legally binding standards for hospital food in England is the simplest and most effective way to improve patients’ meals. It’s unacceptable that hospital patients in Wales will be guaranteed healthy meals but patients in England will not.”