Sugary drinks could be banned from England’s hospitals as the NHS attempts to tackle the obesity problem affecting its staff.
NHS England is considering a ban on the sale of drinks with added sugar or, alternatively, making vendors pay a levy to be allowed to sell such drinks on NHS premises.
The rules would cover fizzy drinks but also sweetened milk, sweetened coffee and fruit juice with added sugar.
It is estimated that more than half of the health service’s 1.3 million employees are overweight or obese and NHS England says this is not just bad for their own health but also affects their credibility when they advise patients to lose weight.
Chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Confronted by rising obesity, type 2 diabetes and child dental decay, it’s time for the NHS to practice what we preach.
“Nurses, visitors and patients all tell us they increasingly want healthy, tasty and affordable food and drink options. So, like a number of other countries, we’re now calling time on hospitals as marketing outlets for junk food and fizzy drinks.”
Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said the idea was “brilliant”, adding that staff “know full well the ravages caused by sugary drinks on a patient’s health.”
Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: “It’s hard to see how a ban on soft drinks can be justified given that the sector has led the way in reducing consumers’ sugar intake – down by over 17% since 2012.”
If the plan is adopted, it could be in place next year.
Money raised would go towards staff health and wellbeing programmes.
Any levy would be in addition to plans for a new tax on the soft drinks industry that was announced by the Government in March.