The Food for Life Hospital Leaders Circle aims to bring patients and hospital staff together to transform their food and use good food to support rehabilitation and improve health and wellbeing.
The project follows a pilot in three hospitals, which saw initiatives like patients eating meals together round a table at ward level. Calderdale Royal Hospital is planning a new herb, fruit and vegetable growing spaces, and a daily fruit and vegetable stall is now trading at Warwick Hospital.
The new initiative was launched at the Food for Life Better Care conference, which aimed to focus on food in care homes, hospitals and the community to improve wellbeing.
Dr Susannah McWilliam from the Soil Association said: “Good food is a central part of supporting health and our pilot projects showed that when good food is made available, people will choose it.
“Hospitals serve 300 million meals to patients each year, spending £500 million on food annually.
“With diet-related ill-health costing the NHS £5.8 billion a year and the cost to the wider economy expected to rise to £50 billion a year by 2050, hospitals urgently need to tackle both malnutrition in patients and the promotion of healthy food to staff and visitors.”
The Food for Life Hospital Leaders Circle supports hospitals to meet key new policy requirements like the development of a food and drink strategy and meet objectives in the NHS Five Year Forward View surrounding food.