Improved standards for hospital nutrition and catering are to be introduced, and the Scottish Government will consult on making them legally binding, health secretary Alex Neil (pictured) said this week.
The improvements are part of a package of measures being introduced to build on the progress already made to improve standards of nutritional care in Scottish hospitals.
The measures announced today are: improved nutrition and catering standards introduced in the new year, supported by increased inspections of hospital meals
A consultation to determine whether nutritional standards in hospitals should be placed on a statutory footing.
A further £300,000 will be invested to help boards to improve nutritional care Scotland was the first country in the UK to introduce national standards for food, fluid and nutrition in hospitals.
Since 2008 more than £1.75 million has been invested to improve standards of nutritional care, including supporting nutritional champions, malnutrition screening of all patients when they are admitted to hospital, and the introduction of protected mealtimes to ensure patients get the help they need to eat.
Continuing improvements to hospital food are part of the Scottish Government’s 2025 vision to make Scotland a “good food nation”.
Mr Neil said: “Scotland has led the way in the UK when it comes to developing and monitoring standards for nutritional care and catering in hospitals.
“We already have rigorous standards in place, and clear guidance about how these standards can be met.
“Catering teams, dieticians, specialist consultants and nursing staff are doing great work to ensure that patients are getting nutritious and balanced diets in hospital.
“We have made great progress, but I recognise that there is always more that can be done to drive up standards.
“We have been working on these new guidelines for some time as part of an ongoing review of nutritional standards.
“This is part of a package of measures that will help to ensure that hospital food continues to improve, that NHS boards have the appropriate amount of support and advice that they need to deliver these improvements and that we have an even stronger inspection process.”