Health Ministry promising revolution in hospital food

General University Hospital in Prague

The Czech Republic offers patients a very high standard of medical care. However the sore point in Czech hospitals is the food – still prepared according to dietary norms from 1955. The Health Ministry is now promising a revolution in hospital food – a diet that is healthy, tasty and nutritious.

“We got powder porridge I didn't have the courage to taste the rest”

“Were it not for the food my mother brought from home, I would probably have starved to death after giving birth. It was not a nutritious diet for patients in general, let alone for women who have given birth.”

“My four-year-old son was in the hospital for acute vomiting. He received a sausage as his first meal.”

That is how Czech patients describe their experiences with hospital food on social networks.

General University Hospital in Prague | Photo: Kateřina Šulová,  ČTK

Diet has long been one of the worst-rated parameters in all surveys dealing with patient satisfaction in health care. According to a survey conducted among hospital patients two years ago, only one in four said the food was edible. The Ministry of Health has now pledged to change that.

"We want to give patients a tasty, healthy and balanced diet, based on WHO recommendations. That has not been the case to date, but thanks to a working group of experts  who produced a set of new recommendations, we will effect a radical change. Diet is an important part of patient satisfaction and subsequent recovery," Health Minister Adam Vojtěch told Czech Radio.

Nutrition specialists spent a year and a half producing the new methodology, which they promise will take hospital food into the 21st century.

Prague’s General University Hospital was the first to introduce the new system nine months ago and the feedback from patients is favourable. Hospital staff have also given it the thumbs up.

Other hospitals have been urged to follow suit and Minister Vojtěch says the change will gradually be implemented in all hospitals throughout the Czech Republic.

Illustrative photo: Valentin Baciu,  Pixabay

Patients will have the opportunity to discuss their eating habits with a nutritional therapist upon admission and those who are used to eating a healthy diet, will be able to maintain their eating habits during their stay in hospital, others will get advice on an optimal diet with regard to their state of health.

In addition to healthier Czech dishes, hospitals will enrich the choice with Mediterranean cuisine: pasta, risotto, olives, fish, olive oil and herbs. Patients will be served fish at least twice a week. And thirdly, hospitals have been advised to introduce a touch of Oriental cuisine -dishes with couscous, coconut milk and curry spices, which are very popular with Czechs and are an ideal option for vegetarians.

David Feltl, the head of the General University Hospital in  Prague where the system is up and running, says it took a bit of experimenting at the start and the food is more expensive, but on the other hand much less of it now gets thrown away, not to mention the huge health benefits for patients.