Tuesday 25 October 2016

Fine dining must be part of hospital menu

Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30

Malnutrition can affect more than one in four patients admitted to hospital and compromise their quality of life
Malnutrition can affect more than one in four patients admitted to hospital and compromise their quality of life

Appetising and tasty are rarely words that accompany patients' description of hospital meals. More often, the dining reviews say "sad-looking offering" or, at worst, "inedible".

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Although the subject of jokes, hospital food can affect the recovery of the patient, particularly those who are malnourished on admission.

Malnutrition can affect more than one in four patients admitted to hospital and compromise their quality of life.

The decision of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) - which has an impressive record in driving up standards in areas such as infection control in hospital - to turn the spotlight on food is welcome.

The watchdog's no-nonsense approach to standards can only lead to a better experience for patients. One of its main strengths is the "name and shame" aspect of its inspection reports which it publishes.

We can expect some tough criticism in the first reports arising out of the 13 hospitals it plans to inspect as part of the first phase of its action plan.

The era of the overcooked cabbage and cold bacon may be about to finally end.

New approach needed to avoid past mistakes

The last thing anybody wants is for the mistakes of the recent past to go unexamined. But is the Banking Inquiry fulfilling its mandate to conduct a thorough examination of all the issues which led to the collapse of the Irish economy in 2008?

There has been much focus on the relationships between key political, banking and regulatory figures both in the run-up, and during, the financial crisis. Easy political points have been made. Given that Fianna Fáil was in government between 1997 and 2011, it's blindingly obvious that the party shoulders a large part of the blame.

But other actors were involved as well, many of whom were well paid by the public purse to regulate and ensure the banks functioned properly, and that the economy was well run and managed.

While some in public life raised concerns, they were often dismissed as contrarians, talking down the economy. A collective failure to examine those issues in more detail has cost us dear.

What is already apparent is that no one person is wholly responsible for what happened. The system failed. Finding

out how and why is necessary for us as a society to move on and put in place safeguards to avoid a reoccurrence.

To glean that knowledge, we must have an in-depth understanding of how the banks and regulators operated, and what interactions took place between key figures.

Questioning cannot be hysterical. It must be measured, and forensic.

The international financial crisis played a part. But how Ireland Inc was managed, and what lessons can be drawn from those mistakes, is a far more important issue.

That requires our representatives to curb their natural instinct to attack their political rivals, or those who hold opposing views.

A more measured approach is needed, exploring the systems and processes which were in place around that time.

The inquiry has heard too many times about how the events of 2008 were someone else's fault. That does not pass muster, and will not help us rebuild.

Unless the inquiry adopts a less confrontational approach, the concern is we will be no wiser at the end of this process.

Irish Independent

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