Health Service Focus

20.01.16

‘Healthy hubs’ for hospitals

Source: NHE Jan/Feb 16

Kate Bull, executive director of retail at the Royal Voluntary Service, explains why the charity is taking an early lead to encourage healthy eating across the NHS.

At last year’s NHS Innovation Expo Conference, Simon Stevens announced his £5m major drive to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS staff. You may remember the ‘zumba class’ and ‘yoga class’ headlines in newspapers at the time. 

But now the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), one of the biggest retailers in hospitals across the UK, has its own plans to bring about more healthy eating in the NHS. 

The charity, which provides a range of services to allow older people to remain independent, has started transforming all its hospital cafes, shops and trolley services into ‘hubs for healthy eating’. It hopes to be finished by March 2017. 

Scotland setting the agenda

For the last year, RVS has been transforming its offer to meet the Scottish government’s new framework for healthcare buildings, which sets out mandatory standards for healthy eating. 

Kate Bull, executive director of retail at RVS, told NHE: “There are very strict guidelines about what you can sell, and what they class as healthy and unhealthy products. 

“So, they have very strict guidelines within cafes. For instance, 70% of everything we sell or have on offer has to fit in with what they class as a healthy product. Those are products within Scotland that are predominantly low in salt, sugar and fat. It has meant a complete re-look at what we sell. For example, we now sell low-fat sausages for breakfast. 

“In shops, as opposed to cafes, it is a 50-50 rule: 50% of what we sell has to be healthy living. That has meant, as an organisation, we have looked at meal deals, which have traditionally been a can of fizzy drink, a bag of crisps and a sandwich. We are now trying to make those a healthy option, so it is a bottle of water, a piece of fruit and a sandwich with low salt content. So, as a consumer, you can still buy a meal deal, but it conforms with the healthy living standards.” 

This has involved working with suppliers to adapt products and menus. But rather than just focusing on changing its services north of the border, the charity has decided to roll out the transformation programme across its entire UK estate. 

Over the next year, as part of a phased introduction, staff, patients and visitors across the NHS will see the introduction of new menus and healthy, nutritious options at fair prices across RVS hospital locations, said Bull. 

Not penalising healthy eating 

Bull added that because the concept is new in England and Wales, “there is still some concern” about whether people will be able to buy ‘healthy’ at a reasonable price. But she is confident the new-look facilities can deliver. 

The first flagship cafe will open at Royal Bournemouth Hospital in spring 2016, followed by a new concept store at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. “In Bournemouth, we are providing healthy food at a very reasonable price,” said Bull. “It is in the same remit as the old prices. For instance, on the cafe menu at Bournemouth you could have a breakfast roll with low-fat sausages for £2.50. I think that is pretty good value. We are not penalising people because they want to eat healthily; we are trying to encourage them to eat healthy.” 

RVS will also trial a number of initiatives, including a newspaper that discusses NHS healthy living, to drive encouragement and take-up. 

“We don’t want this to be a chore for people, where they say ‘there is nothing I can eat’. What we are trying to say is that you can eat all of these things, they’re lovely and they are good value,” said Bull. 

Discussing the complexity of the programme, Bull, a former commercial executive at Marks & Spencer, added that if this change was attempted on the high street, within the timescale laid out, it would make a splash in the newspapers. 

She is also confident that the growing trend towards healthy eating on the high street can, and should, be made “easily accessible” for consumers in hospitals. Additionally, RVS has committed to maintaining competitive prices, while providing “excellent value for money”.  

“And we believe this is the right thing to do,” said Bull. “Our desire is driven by what we want to do, which is enriching the lives of older people in particular. But, as we operate in hospitals, it will be enriching the lives of all the people who come into contact with us.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

RCGP: Comprehensive plan for handling winter pressures ‘vital’

14/07/2020RCGP: Comprehensive plan for handling winter pressures ‘vital’

With annual winter pressures and a potential second wave of the coronavirus risking coinciding, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has called f... more >
Manchester University NHS FT health innovation campus takes forward steps

14/07/2020Manchester University NHS FT health innovation campus takes forward steps

A world-leading health innovation and precision medicine campus being established in Manchester, as part of a joint venture between Manchester Un... more >
NHS Confederation partner in new report to level up health in Yorkshire

14/07/2020NHS Confederation partner in new report to level up health in Yorkshire

NHS Confederation, Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN) and Yorkshire Universities have combined their expertise to pub... more >

editor's comment

26/06/2020Adapting and Innovating

Matt Roberts, National Health Executive Editorial Lead. NHE May/June 2020 Edition We’ve been through so much as a health sector and a society in recent months with coronavirus and nothing can take away from the loss and difficulties that we’ve faced but it vital we also don’t disregard the amazing efforts we’v... read more >

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us th... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

NHS at 72: Managing mental health services going forward

03/07/2020NHS at 72: Managing mental health services going forward

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the amazing achievements of our health system over the past few months. But as we recognise the best of the NHS and its response to the Covid-19 crisis we must not forget that for mental health the peak has yet to come. Covid-19 has placed enormous pressure on the entire health and care system. Despite the very real hardships f... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental health and wellbeing. As the best rugby players in the world repr... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

13/06/2019Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

Nurses have been named as the most under-appreciated public sector professionals as new research reveals how shockingly under-vauled our NHS, edu... more >
Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

10/06/2019Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

Peter Skitt, county director and commissioner for Ceredigion Hywel Dda University Health Board, looks ahead to the new integrated care centre bei... more >
Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

10/06/2019Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

Kay Fawcett OBE, clinical advisor and education lead at Helpforce, and Lynn Twinn, talent development consultant, outline the new national traini... more >

interviews

Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual conference, Matt Hancock highlighted what he believes to be the three... more >
NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >
Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >