Hospital food is always going to be a vexed issue.
Every penny spent on it could be going towards another staff member’s salary, a piece of equipment, a secure multi user data entry system, a bottle of hand sanitiser, the list goes on.
On that constrained budget then consider the vast swathe of humanity to be catered to. Different cultures, languages, dietary needs, taboos. Vulnerable people, confused people.
Even catering to the median patient will leave huge areas on the edges of the distribution curve screaming angry.
Frankly one wonders if mashed potato and gatorade on the house should be the limit of hospital food and a stack of home delivery brochures by every bedside.
Nothing so elegant sadly. Instead the Health Directorate has kicked off a consultation process with a discussion paper on food and drink choices at the Canberra Hospital and other ACT Health facilities.
Intriguingly though the one thing punters care about, food for patients, is off the table.
“Greater access to healthy choices will be provided through ACT Health food outlets, staff cafeteria, vending machines and at ACT Health meetings, functions, events and education sessions,” Dr Kelly said.
“Healthy eating is important for promoting good health and wellbeing through all stages of life.
“We want to encourage people to choose healthier options more often, rather than foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, salt, added sugars and excess kilojoules.
“One of the best ways to promote healthy eating is to provide a wide variety of healthy food options that are displayed prominently and are attractive to consumers,” Dr Kelly said.
Food provided to patients as part of their hospital stay will not be included in the initiative as a patient’s diet may be an important part of their treatment.
“The first step will be to consult widely with the public, volunteers, staff, food outlet managers and other stakeholders, to ensure this new initiative is effective in promoting healthy eating, while still providing the flexibility to cater for individual needs and preferences,” Dr Kelly concluded.
Carrot sticks all round.