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Meals in hospitals. PiS announces improvement. Once again

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One of the elements of the Law and Justice party’s election program is to improve the quality of meals in hospitals. But the current government had already announced more money and definition of nutritional standards earlier – after the Supreme Audit Office and the Sanitary Epidemiological Station inspections. Meanwhile, the project on the requirements for nutrition in hospitals has been waiting for adoption and entry into force for a year and a half.

On Tuesday, PiS published the second point of its program for the next term on social media. This is the “Good Meal” program for hospital patients. The facilities are to receive additional funds, and the National Health Fund is to ensure that the quality of nutrition in hospitals is significantly better.

Pilot program

The Ministry of Health announced the introduction of nutrition standards and promised more money already in 2019 after the Supreme Audit Office audit, which recommended the development of uniform menus and meals in hospitals. “The health care system does not guarantee proper nutrition of patients,” the Chamber warned at the time.

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Read also: PLN 14 per day of patient nutrition. The ministry promises changes

The ministry has launched a pilot program entitled “Standard of hospital nutrition for pregnant and postpartum women – Mother’s Diet”. The idea was to implement a model of nutrition provided to pregnant and postpartum women in hospital wards. This was to be done both by improving the quality of meals served to hospitalized women, as well as through educational campaigns aimed at improving the level of knowledge regarding the principles of healthy eating. Hospitals ordering meals from external companies were to make sure to include in the contract all important elements regarding the quality of products, standards of their preparation, qualifications of staff, etc. Pregnant and postpartum women were to receive five meals a day: breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner. The breaks between individual meals ranged from 2 to 4 hours. Due to the fact that the patients are often accompanied by the children’s fathers, they were supposed to be able to buy the meals that are served to the patients. However, the pilot ended on May 31, 2022.

Earlier, in February 2021, Deputy Minister of Health Waldemar Kraska, when asked about the issue of poor meals in hospitals, explained in response to a parliamentary interpellation that “as part of the currently ongoing National Health Program for 2021-2025, the implementation of the task entitled Determining nutritional standards in hospitals is planned. “.

Sanitary and Epidemiological Station inspection and alarming results

At the time The Sanitary and Epidemiological Station inspected both hospitals with their own kitchen and those that use catering services. The inspections showed that compliance with hygiene during the preparation and serving of meals was problematic, but so was the quality of food.

Szymon Cienki, spokesman for the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, explained to TVN24 reporter Anna Wilczyńska that “these were most often incorrect information regarding specific allergens in food, incomplete meals and too small portions, or prepared from products of inappropriate quality.”

As a result of the Sanepid inspection, 47 fines were imposed on hospitals and 241 administrative decisions were issued obliging the facilities to take corrective actions. There were more fines than in previous years. In the pandemic year of 2020, there were 10 of them, in 2019 – 12. At the same time, in 2021 there were four times as many inspections.

The Sanitary and Epidemiological Station publishes data on the quality of meals in hospitalsTVN24

Prolonged work on the regulation

In March 2022, the Ministry of Health published a draft regulation that would specify what the hospital diet should look like.

The document specifies, among others: types of diets – assumes the introduction of 15 diets and 9 modifications thereof, recommended and contraindicated foodstuffs used in particular types of diets, and the nutritional and energy value of the hospital diets used.

The regulation has still not entered into force. In May this year, information appeared in the media that work on the project had been suspended.

In response to these reports, the Ministry of Health explained that during consultations on the project, the Government Legislation Center commented on the need to modify the statutory authorization to issue the regulation in the proposed form.

The Ministry of Health assured then that the legislative process was currently underway to take this change into account. “Immediately after its approval, work on the draft regulation will be resumed,” the ministry argued.

Main photo source: DarSzach/Shutterstock



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