We undertook local audit work on hospital catering across Wales in the second half of 2011. Hospital catering services are an essential part of patient care because good nutrition plays an important part in aiding patients' recovery when they are in hospital. Patients' mealtime experiences also have a significant bearing on the overall view of their hospital stay.
Alongside the quality of care for patients, hospitals also need to get their catering processes right to ensure that resources are used to best effect. Good nutrition, supporting a speedy recovery, will help reduce lengths of stay. In the current financial climate, it is important that NHS bodies know what they spend on catering services and that there is the appropriate relationship between cost and quality. Different staff groups need to work together to ensure that patients get a good choice of food and that waste is minimised. Good management information is needed to help plan and improve services and gathering the views of patients and their relatives must be central to this.
These are all themes, which our audit work examined. The national summary report, published in March 2011, showed that many of these themes are still posing challenges for the NHS. Although the catering arrangements and nutritional care provided to patients has generally improved over the last decade, more needs to be done to ensure recognised good practice is widely implemented.
To promote the exchange of good practice, we held a Shared Learning Seminar on September 14, 2011. The seminar brought together over 60 delegates from across NHS Wales with practitioners from different disciplines involved in hospital catering and patient nutrition sharing their experiences to support the delivery of the report's recommendations.
All the seminar materials are available here to continue the exchange of good practice to improve services for the benefit of patients.