Role of catering in the NHS's long term plan

21/01/2019 - 09:25
Published earlier this month, the NHS long-term plan has detailed how it will encourage healthier eating, tackle obesity, and diabetes through its food, writes Melissa Moody.

The document set out its plans to continue the financial incentives for hospitals in England that provide healthier food for staff. In 2016, NHS England introduced a financial incentive for hospitals to encourage healthier food options to be available for staff, limiting the proportion, placement and promotion of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).

“The next version of hospital food standards will be published in 2019, strengthening these requirements and pushing further in securing healthy food for our staff and patients. They will include substantial restrictions on HFSS foods and beverages. All trusts will be required by the NHS standard contract to deliver against these standards,” it said.

To date, the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages across the NHS has reduced from 15.6% in July 2017 to 7.4% in June 2018, a number it hopes to lover further.

Obesity also featured heavily within the plan, which acknowledged that ‘the burden of obesity isn’t experienced equally across society’.

It will therefore aim to ‘provide targeted support and offer weight management services’ for people with type two diabetes or high blood pressure in addition to a BMI of over 30. 

“We know we can have a significant impact on improving health, reducing health inequalities and reducing costs,” it said.

It expected that by 2022/23, the NHS will treat up to a further 1,000 children a year for complications related to obesity, so in order to ‘prevent children needing more invasive treatment’ children will also have access to the services weight-loss services.

As previously reported in Cost Sector Catering, the adoption of a very-low calorie diet will be tested through the NHS as a way to reverse type two diabetes.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England said: “The NHS Long Term Plan is going to give people the power and the support to take control of their own lifestyles – so that they can help themselves while also helping the NHS.

“Because what’s good for our waistlines is also good for our wallets, given the huge costs to all of us as taxpayers from these largely preventable illnesses.”

The initial trial had positive results and ‘allowed nearly half of patients to stop taking anti-diabetic drugs and still achieve a non-diabetic range glucose level.’

It also outlined plans to upgrade nutrition support in care homes by 2023/24 with the enhanced health in care homes (EHCH) model being rolled out across the country.

As part of the model, the NHS ‘will ensure that individuals are supported to stay swell-hydrated and well-nourished’.

The training the staff received was also mentioned in the long-term plan. It revealed that it wanted to find out how to get better training for its doctors as nutrition training and an understanding of that is involved in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight varied between medical schools. Some had only six our eight hours of training in a five or six year degree.

“This is not about doctors becoming nutritionists or dietitians. It is about making sure staff on the frontline who are in contact with thousands of patients a year feel equipped to talk to them about nutrition and achieving a healthy weight in an informed and sensible way.

“They should be able to refer patients appropriately in cases where nutrition support could help, if they are overweight and have type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure, fore example.

“Together with the professional bodies and universities we will ensure nutrition has a greater place in professional education training.”

To view the long term plan, visit: https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/

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