Influential political institution the Council of Europe (CoE) has backed moves by NHS caterers to improve the status and standards of hospital food.
At last week's Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) national conference at the Hilton London Metropole, the two organisations joined forces to launch a best-practice good nutrition guide for caterers.
The 10-point document amalgamates existing guidelines and is intended to act as a practical interpretation of the CoE's 100 recommendations on nutritional care in hospitals, which were originally agreed in November 2003.
A spokeswoman for the HCA said the aim of the condensed information was to "focus minds on the importance of hospital catering in patient care and recovery", gaining back the momentum lost by the Government's decision to axe the Better Hospital Food Programme last year.
Newly elected HCA chairman Neil Watson-Jones said: "I have been motivated to take on the chairman's role because of my belief that we are, little by little, making progress in transforming both clinical and public attitudes to hospital food and catering services."
While voluntary, the CoE's scheme is also backed by 10 wide-ranging organisations, including the British Dietetic Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association, as well as governmental bodies such as the Department of Health. The guide will be distributed to HCA's members and is available at www.hospitalcaterers.org.
• Neil Watson-Jones, a past chairman of the HCA, has returned to the role for another two years. An HCA member for 33 years, he is currently trust catering manager at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in Redditch. He replaces chairwoman Alison McCree.
By Chris Druce
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