Hot Food for NHS Staff
Hot Food for NHS Staff

Health and care staff have been at the heart of the fight against coronavirus, working day and night to protect the NHS and save lives. They do so much to make our health service one to be proud of and they deserve our respect, admiration, and full support.

The wellbeing of all NHS employees is paramount. Just as staff need the right tools to do their job, we must ensure they have the nutrition and hydration they need. This is important not only for their mental and physical health, but for the quality of care they provide to patients.

An independent review of NHS hospital food concluded in October 2020. It found that most night shift workers are relying on vending machines “offering nothing healthy and nothing hot”. The review called for an upgrade of hospital and ward kitchens to ensure a 24/7 service could be provided for “everyone”.

The Government has accepted all recommendations of the hospital food review and an expert group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses are leading its implementation.

Wider concerns have been raised, however, that without a strategic and long-term workforce strategy, staff will not benefit from the proposals outlined in the hospital food review. High vacancy rates – which currently stand at 100,000 across the NHS – makes it increasingly difficult for staff to find the time to take breaks.

Furthermore years of pay freezes and pressures are affecting hard-pressed staff, work-related stress has increased, and mental health is consistently the most reported reason for staff absence. A recent cross-party report concluded workforce burnout across the NHS has reached an “emergency level” and poses a risk to the future functioning of services.

The NHS and its staff have been systematically underfunded for years due to this tory Government. This has become strictly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the need for proper funding. It is only right that the frontline workers of the NHS, who have put their lives on the line should be paid a fair wage.

Therefore I am urging the Government to engage with Royal Colleges and trade unions on the significant and immediate workforce challenges and respect their professional voice and experience on matters of pay, conditions and workload. More widely, we need a credible plan to recruit, retain and train the staff our NHS needs to deliver safe, high-quality services now and in the future.

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