Sugary drinks face NHS ban if action is not taken

Sugary drinks will be further removed from NHS canteens, shops and vending machines during 2018.

The NHS is taking action on sugar, with almost two thirds of NHS trusts now signed up to a voluntary scheme to reduce sales of sugary drinks to 10 per cent or less of sold beverages. Some NHS Trusts have gone further and have introduced their own bans on sugary drinks. As well as hospitals, 14 national suppliers have signed up to the voluntary scheme including WH Smith, Marks & Spencer, Greggs and the Royal Voluntary Service.

However, 91 NHS Trusts are yet to join the voluntary scheme to limit the sale of sugary drinks, which can lead to tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

Hospitals and suppliers have been warned that if they don’t take action to reduce sales of sugary drinks by the end of March 2018, a ban will be introduced in 2018 instead.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “It’s important the NHS practices what it preaches on healthy food and drink. We want 2018 to be the year when the tasty, affordable and easy option for patients, staff and visitors is the healthy option.

“Many NHS hospitals have answered the call and are taking positive action.”

Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England, said: “Hospitals should play an important role in preventing obesity, not just treating it. Plans to offer healthier food and restrict less healthy options are a positive step towards tackling the country’s obesity problem.”

Some hospitals have already gone further than the NHS voluntary scheme:

  • Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust banned the sale of sugary drinks two years ago.
  • Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust in January 2017 went 100 per cent non-sugar sweetened for all beverages in their seven Cafes, two shops and multiple vending machines across their various sites.

NHS England’s voluntary sugary drinks reduction scheme covers sugary soft drinks, milkshakes and hot drinks with added sugar syrups.

Currently 141 of 232 NHS Trusts have signed up to the voluntary scheme to reduce sales of sugary drinks.