Virtuous Circle

06 Feb 2008

Prince Charles will take on the issue of hospital food this week when he meets with leaders of the NHS (National Health Service). The prince says patients deserve to have good-quality meals from local producers, instead of cheap dinners that are precooked and reheated.

Prince Charles will encourage hospitals to use organic food and to follow what he calls the ‘virtuous circle’. This circle comes from buying food that is produced locally, which cuts down on food miles (the distance food is transported from field to table), is fresh and benefits local farmers and suppliers.

The Royal Brompton is considered a leader in hospital nutrition. According to a spokeswoman, the hospital spends £3 ($5.90 US) a day per patient, which is three times more than many other hospitals. Food is cooked on the premise using fresh ingredients. Among the skilled kitchen staff they even have a pastry chef.

Prince Charles started looking into the quality of meals being served to patients in hospitals four years ago. He finds it encouraging that meals at Cornwell’s hospitals are being served with more fresh ingredients. He says that the fact that they can serve these meals at a cost of £2.50 ($4.90 US) a day per patient, shows that it can be done within the constraints of NHS budgets.

Even though there have been initiatives to improve hospital food, he is aware of concerns that still surround this issue. Health campaigners say that even if meals have improved, patients often don’t get the held needed when they eat.

Just last month a new study showed that nearly 14,000 NHS patients were suffering from malnutrition when they left the hospital — an increase of 85% over a 10-year period.

Source: The Guardian

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