Sunday, 3 August 2014

NHS Hospital Health Fascism

From the Telegraph

The NHS has been accused of fuelling the obesity epidemic after an investigation disclosed that dozens of fast food restaurants, coffee bars and shops are selling discounted chocolate at hospitals. Medical experts urged the health service to “get its house in order” and clear its hospitals of junk food companies such as Burger King and Subway and coffee shops selling muffins and high-sugar drinks.

Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, said the health service had to take “hard-nosed action” to end the sale of junk food in hospitals, to help tackle the obesity crisis. Health campaigners said they were particularly disturbed by the march of Costa Coffee, which has recently come under fire for selling fruit drinks with four times the recommended daily sugar limits.

You can also buy a black americano with no sugar in them too, which as long as you don't overdo the caffeine is rather healthy. Or a mineral water.

And since when is Subway a "junk food" company? It's about the healthiest takeaway around.

But what do they expect people to eat?

My eldest was recently in hospital and the food was abysmal. A fine example of Friedman's 4th way of spending money - someone spending someone else's money on someone else, which means they don't really care how good it is. Every day, my wife brought food in for her (a mix of some healthy and unhealthy stuff). But for someone who is maybe on their own, what's their option?

And even Burger King have healthy options. And unhealthy ones if that's what people want. Because they're adults and have the brains to choose for themselves, thank you very much.


Lola said...

I concur that NHS food is shite. I was incarcerated in a hospital for 6 weeks and by the end of week one the bloody stuff had fully compacted my bowels.

Lola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Macheath said...

At least you got some food!

During my last hospital stay, the nurses regularly helped themselves to the pickings from the meal trolley before it ever arrived in the ward in a spectacle reminiscent of seagulls descending on a homecoming trawler.

The unappealing stuff got through but none of us ever saw the sandwiches or puddings for which we had so diligently ticked the boxes the day before.

After that, the news that 300,000 NHS staff are 'severely overweight' didn't exactly come as a surprise.

Ivan D said...

I am surprised that your wife was not banned from bringing in food and strip searched in case she had hidden a Mars bar about her person. I am waiting for hospitals to be officially re designated as correction centres.

thethoughtgang said...

Re. Subway, you're misunderstanding what they mean by 'junk food'. In this context it is nothing to do with how healthy it is, and everything to do with whether it is being sold by a large and successful (and, ideally, American) business.

A K Haart said...

The hospital food I had a couple of years ago was miserly crap, but the food in the cafe upstairs was fine. I'd have used the cafe if I'd been mobile.

Mark Wadsworth said...

But there isn't an "obesity crisis" in the first place.

They might as well ban iPod's from hospitals because of the "deafness crisis".

DBC Reed said...

I don't think you should bung the word "fascist" about just to describe attempts to curtail fast food outlets on hospital sites.
If anything, having hospital sites run by private sector money- before-everything operators is a bit right-wing.
As far as I could see from Northampton General (one of the seven most-dangerous- to-patients hospitals in the country) the hospital food was contracted out privately; not that I knew much about it because I only got the left-overs after the food run was over(see above). I was on Men's Surgical which was a lower priority than everywhere else.I would say that hospitals should be more under the control of clinicians especially officer class Consultants ; Asian registrars/doctors who express themselves more like what I do with less bullshit than the public school brigade and a few senior nurses :not nurses in general who are often out of control and certainly not "managers".Attempts to bring "business expertise" to the public sector are lethal from my experience.

Lola said...

As I was incarcerated twice, in relatively quick succession I studies the hospital food thing, a bit.

In both the places I was at the food was bought in from private contractor who was screwed down to a budget. In both cases stuff was made up somewhere in Wales, frozen or whatever, shipped across the country and nuked up for delivery to the patient. The 'roast' potatoes returned to 'Smash' in yer bob, and the roast pork turned to dry granules. Like gravy powder, but without the flavour. This was typical.

There was a bout a year between incarceration 1 and 2. So when I was sent down for No 2 I was ready for it. At each preparation bit I said to the medics that I was fully confident in them and their treatment, but the thing most likely to kill me was the bloody awful food. They all knew this.

Place 2 was actually Papworth. I had my heart op and got myself mobile PDQ, and moaned about the crap food. They gave me a chit to eat in the proper on site restaurant, which was excellent. I staggered down there on about op plus D3 and tucked in and went every day until I was released for good behaviour. Spending extra cash on greens and puds and tea - all the chit covered was the main meal and a 'drink'. i.e. a bottle of water.

They ward sister told me that the area managers of the food and cleaning services people were coming in. I lurked. They turned up. I gave them a going over. They agreed, and said that if they were paid more that (I think) 40p per meal they could do a better job.

Apparently the food is still crap so my October 2011 rant didn't do much good.

The Stigler said...


I use the term fascism because these people aren't content with being the servants of you and me, advising us and fixing us. They want to control how we live. In every way that they can, they will try and control how we eat, drink or smoke.

The Stigler said...


"Attempts to bring "business expertise" to the public sector are lethal from my experience."

It doesn't work because the incentives are a horrible mess. You have people who aren't particularly caring about the cost putting the work out to people who are trying to shaft them.

I'm pro-competition, not pro-outsourcing. The outsourcing of IT in government has been a disaster - you just end up dealing with companies trying to extract more profit for no efficiency gains.