Slimpod helps first sugar-free hospital to win coveted NHS award

23rd March 2020

THE annual NHS Sustainability Awards are highly prized and that’s why I’m delighted and proud that one hospital I’ve been working with for the past three years has been awarded first place in the food category and was shortlisted for a second recognising staff engagement.

The judges said Tameside Hospital’s innovative approach to meals and menus and its pioneering work with me and the Slimpod programme, to identify and create ways to help overweight and overworked medical staff, was truly outstanding and was a model to be shared with the wider NHS.

My work is my passion, and to be included and recognised in the national NHS Sustainability Awards this way for the contribution Slimpod has made reaffirms my belief that changing the way people behave towards food is the best way to create healthy eating habits.

The awards reward and showcase the best hospitals in the country who are working to reduce their carbon footprint and make the environment for their staff, patients and visitors more healthy and sustainable.

Working with the Tameside Chief Executive, Karen James, who I find has a pioneering approach to all things, we persuaded the catering team at the Manchester hospital to go sugar free – the first in the NHS to do so.

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For well over a year sugar has been ditched from all meals and the only drinks on sale in the staff and public restaurant are tea, coffee, milk, water and sugar free soft drinks and juices.

More recently, all plastic cutlery and packaging has been removed and replaced with wooden and cardboard alternatives. And the vending machines now stock healthier options.

Pioneering CEO Karen James

I couldn’t be more pleased; I’ve always said that to deliver high quality patient care the NHS needs staff who are healthy, well and at work. That’s more true than ever in today’s climate, where NHS workers are playing such a vital and demanding role in protecting the health of the nation.

Even in normal times, many report the demands of the job – long hours and snatched meals – have resulted in an unhealthy lifestyle and weight gain.

There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that looking after the health and welfare of colleagues directly contributes to the delivery of quality patient care.

That’s why doctors, nurses and healthcare workers at Tameside Hospital are taking part in a unique, ongoing project which is seeing great results.


The 140 volunteers signed up for Slimpod hoping to show that improvements to their own health and weight will also demonstrate a knock-on benefit for their patients.

The Tameside team include consultants, midwives, community nurses and medical support secretaries. I personally oversee the programme, and my team log the results, which we are beginning to share with other healthcare professionals and the Department of Health.

Two studies have now been held with staff at Tameside hospital, with great results.

Significantly, 97 per cent of staff reported they lost interest in snacking and as a result ate healthier food and lost weight.  Because Slimpod retrains the brain, the weight loss for many has been permanent.

Me and Dr Xand from TV’s How
To Lose Weight Well programme

Nurses from Tameside who took part in the second study featured on Channel 4’s How to Lose Weight Well programme, with Dr Xand. They were asked to report weight loss; sleep patterns and general improvements in their health and wellbeing in a weekly journal and through on-line group chats.

I’m proud of what everyone at Tameside has achieved and delighted to have been able to play such a major part in the hospital’s exciting new healthy eating regime.

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