Ashford and St Peters Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is committed to providing consistent, evidence based, quality care in ensuring all patients receive the nutritional support appropriate to their needs and will incorporate a holistic assessment and demonstrate patient/carer and family involvement in the care provided.

This policy provides a framework for best practice at mealtimes for our patients. The protected mealtimes philosophy is an initiative of the Better Hospital Food Programme and has the support of many national organisations such as the British Dietetic Association (BDA), British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN 1999), Royal College of Physicians (RCP, 2002) and the Department of Health (DoH, 2003) with supporting reports from the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA, 2004).

Up to 40% of adults show signs of malnutrition on admission to hospital and often their hospital stay exacerbates there condition (McWhirter and Pennington, 1994). BAPEN estimated that public expenditure on Malnutrition in the UK in 2007 was £13 billion.

Mealtimes are not only a vehicle to provide adequate nutrition but also provide an opportunity to support social interaction amongst patients. The therapeutic role of food within the healing process cannot be underestimated and many now regard food, and the service of food as an essential part of treatment. Food, however, even if it is of the highest quality is only of any value if the patient actually eats it.

The ward environment, presentation of food and the timing and content of meals are important elements in encouraging patients to eat well. The importance of mealtimes needs to be emphasised and ward based staff given the opportunity to focus on the nutritional and eating requirements of patients at mealtimes.



This policy applies to all employed clinical staff, qualified and unqualified, bank and agency staff required to work in clinical areas. This includes but is not limited to medical staff, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals (AHP) and health care assistants (HCA).



  • To improve the ‘mealtime experience’ for patients by the measures detailed within this policy.
  • To provide consistent individualised high quality care in provision of nutrition for all patients of Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
  • To support an environment and culture that recognises the central importance of meal times in providing a nutritious diet for our patients


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Nina Cron, Nutrition Support Nurse
Ratified by: Senior Nursing and Midwifery Leadership Committee (SNMLC)
Date Ratified: March 2014
Date Issued: March 2014
Review Date: March 2017
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Nina Cron, Nutrition Support Nurse