The Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) has welcomed the news that food and hydration provision scores were among the largest increases in the latest Patient- Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE) publication.

Food and hydration provision assessments carried out across healthcare sites in England between March and June 2017 increased by 1.4% on average, at national level, compared to last year. The national average score for food overall was 89.7% based on both organisational and ward assessment scorecards, which are used to gather the data. A total of 2,045 food assessments were undertaken in the period at 1,167 sites where meals are provided by the hospital.

The food and hydration part of the assessment includes a range of organisational questions relating to the catering service, such as choice of food, 24-hour availability, meal times and access to menus. It also includes an assessment of food at ward level focusing on the taste, texture and appropriateness of serving temperature.

Stewart McKenzie, chair of the HCA and site facilities manager at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, said: “The data in the 2017 report, shows positive improvement in not only the overall food and hydration scores but also in the organisational questions and food at ward level assessments. The national average score for food overall was 89.7%, while, the national average score for food organisation was 88.8%, 1.8 percentage points higher than 2016, and for ward food it was 90.2%, an increase of 1.2 percentage points compared to last year. This data allows us to see where catering teams are performing well and where there may be areas for improvement to ensure patients are always receiving the highest quality of care.”

The PLACE assessments are an annual appraisal of the non-clinical aspects of NHS and independent or private healthcare settings, identified as important by patients and the public.

Mr McKenzie continued: “The HCA believes a multi-disciplinary approach is pivotal in ensuring patients are at the heart of hospital services. In recent years, we have sought greater collaboration between caterers, nurses and dietitians as part of our ‘Power of 3’ campaign. This important initiative of working together to help improve the nutritional outcomes for patients overarches much of what we are aiming to achieve as an association.”