Hospital visitors in Britain have been left hungry and disappointed, without access to good hospital food, when seeing loved ones outside of working hours. A survey, commissioned by Preoday, questioned people who have visited a hospital in the last five years and found 64% have been unable to buy themselves a proper meal because hospital cafes and restaurants have been closed during a visit. The vast majority (73%) wish cafes would remain open until visiting hours end so they could have better access to food in the evening. As a result of a limited access to food, 52% have had to buy food and drinks from vending machines.
In 2015/16, the NHS Confederation reports there were over 16m hospital admissions. With many patients receiving visitors during their stay, millions may have been left unable to find a much needed meal during their visit. Despite it being increasingly common and convenient for people to pre-order food from restaurants on their mobile outside of hospital, it is not a service most eateries within hospitals offer. Perhaps then it is unsurprising that 68% of survey respondents would call for a more convenient supply of good food and drink when visiting a hospital at any time of day.
The survey results show that we need more good hospital food options for visitors. With cafes and restaurants closing around 5pm, but visiting hours continuing until 8pm, there’s little opportunity to obtain a good evening meal. Even if outlets have to close before the end of visiting hours, hospitals now have the opportunity to provide a convenient pre-ordering food service available for collection, or even delivery, outside of hours. It’s a solution that would allow visitors to plan ahead and feel relaxed about finding a decent meal.
People are often rushing to fit in a visit after work, which in itself can be a stressful experience. When they don’t have time to eat at home, access to convenient, healthy food, can have a hugely positive effect. An easy to use pre-ordering service would remove the need to make a main meal out of vending machine fodder, or spend time traipsing across a building to find something other than chocolate.
2,000 online interviews with UK adults: data taken from the 80% average that had visited a hospital in the last five years