Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on hospital food standards in Wales? OAQ(5)0189(HWS)
Vaughan Gething –
Thank you for the question. Directions and guidance are in place in hospitals for patients, staff and visitors in relation to healthy eating. These include mandatory food and fluid nutrition standards for patients, mandatory healthy food and drink vending standards and guidance for food and drink to serve to staff and visitors.
Diolch. In October 2016, Hywel Dda university health board threw away more than 7 per cent of the food it was providing. That’s the worst performing board in Wales. The real shame of this, of course, is that Hywel Dda health board is set in an area that is rich in fresh food produce. I wonder, Cabinet Secretary, how much further you think you can go in terms of co-operating with public sector procurement agencies in Wales to ensure that more tasty Welsh local food can be put on the menu in our hospitals? Now, these larger purchases by the NHS in Wales could have a significant impact on the Welsh food industry, and we’re going to be proposing this in the rural development plan that we’ll be publishing next week. To what extent do you think you can co-operate much closer with, in particular, the economic and agricultural and rural Secretaries on this issue?
I thank you for the question. On the food waste point, we’ve actually changed our target from getting down to 10 per cent in waste down to getting to below 5 per cent as well, so there is a point about waste within the hospital sector, and about making sure that we have a continuing journey of improvement. On the specific point you mention about how we procure for the national health service, we’re actually undertaking an exercise already with the national procurement service, and they’re working with the whole Welsh public sector. And I’m happy to say that, as part of what we’ve asked for, we’ve actually asked for Welsh protected geographical indication status to be contained within the specification, so we’re actually asking for produce from Wales to be part of what we wish to procure. And it’s also about trying to understand how we make it easier for small and medium suppliers to actually be part of providing that produce as well. There’s a consultation that’s been undertaken, with people in the food business, to understand how we make it easier for them, and at the same time, get good value for the public. Because there are the twin points here: about the economic value from the procurement service, but also not compromising on the nutritional value of what we want to provide in our settings. But I’m happy to say that tenders for the current framework across the public sector are due in this week, and then there’s a scheduled award against that framework in this summer as well. So, you should, I hope, see a greater number of Welsh producers taking advantage of the opportunities available—good value in economic terms to Wales, but also good value in terms of nutritional standards as well.