By Denis Sheehan, Publisher, H&C News
The Institute of Health & Social Care, in collaboration with the ‘No Hungry NHS Staff’ campaign, recently surveyed its members to explore the availability of hot food across health and social care during night and weekend shifts.
Of the nearly 250 responses received, there was widespread frustration, and even indignation at the poor availability of hot food during night and weekend shifts.
Less than 10% of respondents reported that freshly made hot food was available 24/7 in their organisations, whilst 38% reported that no food of any type, hot or cold, was available.
Only 28% of organisations provide hot food of any description (includes vending machines).
The survey also revealed a new pressure on security staff. In many hospitals streams of fast food delivery companies means security personnel are diverted from the normal duties to act as concierge for deliveries and contacting the department and ward-staff, who have placed the orders. Proof, if it were needed, that night and weekend workers want a hot meal.
Reasons from organisations for not offering hot food at nights and weekends included cost, low demand (contradicted by the issue above) and staff availability.
Where hot food is made available 24/7, costs typically vary between £3 and £7 – well below that charged typically for delivered hot food from outside the organisation – so nor is this an issue driven by affordability.
Whilst the NHS and social care experience severe and consistent workforce recruitment and retention issues, it is strange that the issue of hot food availability for staff who may be working long shifts is not taken more seriously.
The IHSCM will continue to support the provision of hot food 24/7 across health and social care providers.
H&C News Comment: The simple fact that the very people who care for our lives are not provided 24/7 with a range of nutritious food and drink to sustain them doing so is a national scandal. It points towards inept management at every level of the NHS and Social Care, undermining the very principles of both. There are many catering businesses that are more than capable of remedying this, if the will is there to do so.
About the Institute of Health and Social Care Management:
The Institute of Health & Social Care Management is the leading independent membership organisation for managers and leaders across health and social care. It supports and encourages the development of members through a range of activities as well as promoting members’ best interests. Originally founded in 1902, the IHSCM is a vibrant and growing professional Institute open to all.