I was encouraged to see that my presentation at the Royal Society of Medicine on 'How to persuade heart patients to change their diet' had received national press interest. The issue of how we present and showcase healthy eating from within healthcare is essential to the health and attitudes of our patients. I believe we need to be open and transparent about our shortcomings and this puts us in a position to motivate a universal approach to improvement. The problem is that we have large organisational inertia in the NHS, continue to promote outdated principles/ guidelines and hospital food for both staff and patients is poor.
One of the articles that highlighted these issues was published in the telegraph and written by their science writer, Sarah Knapton -
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/06/10/hospitals-serve-a-tsunami-of-grease-in-canteens-warns-heart-surg/. Interestingly despite being the principle subject of the article I was unaware that this was in the pipeline. This did put the usual media spin on the subject but I have learnt to a certain extent to except and embrace this as clearly they know how to generate interest which is essential to promote debate. Something perhaps that we are not so effective at in healthcare.
Overall it was a pretty accurate representation of the key problems and most of the content was directly quoted from the presentation. The one thing they did fail to highlight is that I had described the national NHS baseline so as to highlight the areas of improvement that we have implemented in our own trust in Bath across staff food, patient food and specific clinical services for cardiovascular conditions/ weight loss. This is in parallel with academic projects focusing on dietary research. I guess, unfortunately the negatives are always more exciting than the positives.
I was disappointed that although I had been careful to discuss the problem within the NHS as a whole rather than within specific hospitals, this had been extrapolated. I am able to reflect on my involvement in a number of local hospitals including Swindon and Bristol and the issues are exactly the same - you see the same poor quality processed offering across the board and I imagine this is linked to the rigid NHS corporate supply chain.
In conclusion we need to be open and honest about these dietary/ food issues in the NHS and although there is a long way to go, in Bath we are showing that small changes and internal enthusiasm can make a big impact.