Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) what minimum nutritional level of food served to patients in NHS hospitals his Department has set;
(2) what assessment he has made of the nutritional content of food served (a) in hospitals, (b) in residential care homes and (c) through meals on wheels services.
Anne Milton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Public Health), Health; Guildford, Conservative)
The Department does not assess the nutritional content of meals provided by the national health service, social care or meals on wheels. However, the registration system established under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 requires all providers of health and adult social care regulated activities to meet essential levels of safety and quality, and nutrition is a part of this.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for the inspection and regulation of services. If CQC finds services are not meeting regulatory requirements, we expect it to use its powers of enforcement to ensure compliance.
Good food is an essential part of hospital and social care, and health and adult social care providers are required by law to meet the nutritional needs of patients and service users. Provider organisations are responsible for compiling their own menus and making decisions about the food served to patients and service users. This includes planning and monitoring the nutritional content of menus.
A range of information sources are available to help hospitals (and other providers) devise healthy, nutritious, tasty menus, as follows:
‘Healthier and more sustainable catering: toolkit and supporting nutrition principles’ is available on the Department's website:
The Operating Framework for 2011-12 requires the NHS to consider the Government Buying Standards for Food (published June 2011).
Best practice guidance on the delivery of food in the NHS was produced by the Department and is now available at the Hospital Caterers Association website at: