Hospital vending – keeping the NHS healthy

We all know that obesity is associated with a range of health problems, but few realise that the resulting NHS costs attributable to obesity are projected to reach £9.7bn by 2050, with wider costs to society estimated to reach £49.9bn per year. So, it is no wonder that preventing obesity is, a major public health challenge.

In a typical work environment, staff will consume drinks, snacks and at least one meal, so the workplace therefore provides an opportunity to positively influence eating habits. Hospitals have a role to play in the food provided to staff and visitors as well as to patients, so NHS England has made a commitment to ensure the NHS as an employer sets a national example relating to food and drink sold on their premises.

Thirst Link is currently helping a growing number of NHS hospitals to meet the challenge of satisfying the mandatory CQUIN for staff health and wellbeing, which requires the provision of a healthy hot food service for doctors and nurses outside of conventional catering hours, particularly night shifts and weekends.

Vending also has a major part to play in this improvement process. Understandably, vending machines have been criticised for providing convenient access to food and drinks that are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt. But things are changing – for the better.

As consumers increasingly demand healthy options, the vending industry has reacted and taken big steps to improve the nutritional quality of vended food and beverages.

Our team of professionals know how we can help our NHS clients improve and get the best out of their vending service. We will identify what the most suitable equipment is, for each location. We recognise that, by replacing old, expensive to run machines and getting in modern, reliable equipment fitted with the latest technology (such as media screens displaying nutritional content and allergens within products information prior to purchase) would not only deliver excellent quality drinks and food, but provide the hospital with a significant rise in income, with reduced costs.

As a supporter of the Sugar Smart programme, Thirst Link will work with the vending operator to ensure that the new machines contain a fully CQUIN and SSBs (Sugar-Sweetened Beverages) compliant products range, with healthier products being identified and promoted. But not only that, just by making simple changes to altering the availability and placement of healthier products in the vending machines, can have meaningful effects on purchasing behaviours.

Our clients value our expertise and welcome our reassurance, that we will do everything we can to advise and assist them to meet the standards set by NHS England, to provide healthier food and drink to their staff and visitors.