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Dr Simon Allison of BAEHN: Good nutrition can shorten hospital stays
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The BBC's James Westhead: One way to improve food is to bring the kitchen to the patient
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Prue Leith: Give them what they want
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Wednesday, 9 June, 1999, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Hospital food making patients ill
Hospital catering should be
Hospital catering should be "part of clinical treatment"
Hospital food is so poor that many patients come out feeling worse and weighing less than when they went in, according to a new report.

Experts in hospital nutrition are calling for an overhaul of the way food is prepared and delivered to the bedside.

The British Association for Experts in Hospital Nutrition claims many patients who are already malnourished deteriorate when they come in to hospital.

Half of the food served in hospital is thrown away
More than half of the food served is thrown away at huge cost as patients find it unpalatable, it says.

The group is calling for a change in culture, arguing that food should be integrated as part of clinical treatment, rather than as a separate hotel service as at present.

To achieve this, it suggests hospitals' catering budgets should be taken away from managers and put in the control of doctors and nurses who look after the patients.

Elderly 'bullied'

The report coincides with a scathing attack on nursing homes and hospitals by cookery writer Prue Leith.

The restauranteur believes many nursing homes and hospitals are bullying their elderly residents over meals.

At an annual meeting in London of the charity Counsel and Care, she urged nursing homes to adopt a more flexible approach to meal times.

She cited the example of a 90-year-old woman at Guy's Hospital in London who was forced to eat poached eggs on wholemeal toast when she wanted fried eggs on white bread.

Ms Leith said: "She had eaten white bread and fry-ups all her life and had made it very successfully into her 90s. This is no time, I thought, for diet lessons from some 20-something girls."

Ms Leith believes that families of residents, friends and the children of the staff should be allowed to join the table at meal times to create a "family-style" atmosphere.

She also feels there should be a glass of wine on the tables to help digestion and "make people feel better".

"Too many homes afford no such simple facilities. Why are we so cruel in removing such pleasures just because people need care in a home?" she said.

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23 Apr 99 | Health
Call for improved hospital food
15 Oct 98 | Education
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