Hospital food 'transformed'

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One county's success in improving hospital food could be copied elsewhere in the UK, the Soil Association (SA) claims.

The Cornwall Food Programme (CFP) claims to have transformed the quality of food consumed by patients and has increased how much of the produce is sourced locally.

A report from the SA found that 92 per cent of people receiving care in Cornwall's hospitals rated the food as very good or excellent compared to the 37 per cent of patients in other areas of the UK who leave hospital food because it looks, smells or tastes unappealing.

The budget spent on buying food locally increased to 83 per cent in comparison to the 67 per cent spent outside of Cornwall before the introduction of the CFP.

This has resulted in a reduction of annual food miles – how far food has travelled – by 67 per cent. Before the programme food was travelling 164,042 miles to reach patients but by sourcing locally food miles have reduced to 53,596 miles.

The changes were implemented while keeping within the food budget of £2.50 per patient per day.

Commenting on the CFP, royal patron of the SA Prince Charles said: "This shows what can be achieved within the very real constraints of NHS budgets and the rules governing public procurement contracts.

"Contrary to what some believe, it is generally the case that what is good for the environment is also good for our health, and good for business."

Peter Melchett, SA policy director, added that the scheme could be "readily repeatable" across the UK.

"The programme is delivering a triple-dose of benefits: decent food that helps patients recover; a boost to the local economy; sustaining the livelihoods of local fishermen, farmers and food producers; and a cut in food miles, so helping curb climate change that threatens the health of us all," he said.

"The government should ensure this beacon of best practice is taken up by every hospital across Britain."

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