FAST FOOD in hospitals undermines the health of NHS workers who do not have the use of kitchen facilities during overnight shifts, health union Unison warned yesterday.
Takeaways, fizzy drinks and unhealthy snacks from vending machines are often the only food available for nurses and health assistants working round the clock, the union’s Campaign for Better Hospital Food said.
Nearly three-quarters of the 3,650 staff surveyed said that vending machines are often empty and serve snacks past their sell-by dates.
Also, more than half (57 per cent) said meal preparation facilities with microwaves in hospitals were poor.
Three in 10 workers said they regularly work night shifts starting at 7pm, but almost half of hospital canteens serving hot and healthy meals close at least an hour earlier.
More than half were unwilling to eat meals of the standard offered to patients — made off-site by private contractors.
Nine in 10 workers said that patients have complained that the meals are unappetising.
It is “essential” that night-shift workers are able to access healthy meals as they often have to resort to food high in fat, salt and sugar, said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.
He said: “Both staff and patients deserve better. An overhaul of NHS food is needed urgently, and enforceable standards introduced so that hospitals can be held to account if they breach them. Takeaways and fizzy pop don’t make for a healthy workforce.”