Headlines: September 24th, 2008

The 30,000 hospital staff of NHS trusts based throughout the Cheshire and Merseyside region will soon be offered healthy eating options. The project will be delivered by Heart of Mersey, the cardiovascular disease prevention charity based in Liverpool.

The project resulted from research by Heart of Mersey which revealed poor levels of understanding among hospital staff around the term ‘healthy eating option’. For example, 37 per cent of staff admitted to avoiding healthy options because they were ‘not on a diet’. The research also revealed relatively poor dietary habits among hospital staff, with the top two snacks bought being crisps and chocolate.

The project will run until the end of the year and each hospital will evaluate the effectiveness of new healthy eating promotions among their employees. These will include new menu items, the offer of a free bottle of water with a main meal, and other health food discounts. Canteen staff will also be modifying recipes to reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar and increase fruit and vegetables in meals.

Robin Ireland, Chief Executive at Heart of Mersey, said: “As one of the largest employers in the UK, the NHS should be leading the way in promoting healthy eating among its employees. There has been a significant focus upon how patient food can affect clinical outcomes, and rightly so, but the importance of a healthier diet for a healthier workforce able to deliver the highest possible standard of patient care, has been largely overlooked until now.”