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15 Aug 2023

Celebrating 75 years of the NHS

Celebrating 75 years of the NHS

Philip Shelley, Senior Operational Manager and National Lead for Net Zero Food - NHS England, speaks to IFE about the 75-year history of the NHS and its ongoing efforts to provide healthy, sustainable, nutritious and tasty meals to patients and staff.

As we reflect on 75 years of the NHS, it is vital to understand the journey from its creation in 1948, as it has evolved through the years to meet the needs of each successive generation into becoming the NHS we know today. It is an incredible achievement and we must take the time to pay tribute to the remarkable and far-reaching impact of our workforce who strive to deliver safe and effective patient care, whilst working towards improving the sustainability and efficiency of the future NHS.  

Launched in November 2022, the Food Standards provided a platform for modernisation as well as a consistency benchmark, improving catering services across the NHS. Transformation led by the Estates & Facilities Teams, is creating stronger partnerships with our FM providers, enabling a joined-up approach and opportunity for learning from different sectors.

One of the ways we continue to transform the NHS is through innovation of our food skills, considering people’s preferences, religious and cultural backgrounds and allergens when shaping our menus. Our food is starting to reflect the diversity of modern British cuisine, attracting chefs into healthcare with flair and an ability to innovate on a budget.

Ensuring patients receive nutritious and tasty meals is part of the care plan for our patients, to maximise their recovery and well-being. This includes understanding any dietary/texture requirements, which of course relies heavily on strong relationships between the nursing staff, dietitians and catering colleagues. Providing tasty and nutritious food can have a lasting effect on our patient’s diet when they return home, inspiring and improving their food choices.

Similarly, NHS staff provide care and support every day of the year, so it is important that food of the highest quality is readily available for staff and visitors to purchase. 

To celebrate the 75th birthday of the NHS, let us recognise its profound influence as a community anchor, a treasured national institution and acknowledge the vital role food and drink play in patient care. NHS Trust Boards must continue to drive improvement on the quality of ingredients and choice available for all those who use and work in the NHS.

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