Esperance Health Campus flunks Healthy Options audit

Esperance Health Campus. Photo: Supplied.
Esperance Health Campus. Photo: Supplied.

A recent audit shows the Esperance Hospital to be completely non-compliant with a policy that encourages healthy options in healthcare environments.

An audit of 25 health services, released today, August 22, found Esperance Health Campus to be at zero per cent compliance, along with seven other sites managed by the WA Country Health Service.

The Healthy Options WA Food and Nutrition Policy, classifies food and drinks into green foods, for mostly healthy, and amber and red foods, for unhealthy options.

Half of all food and drinks on offer must be classified as green and a maximum of 20 per cent can be classified as red.

The rest can fall into the amber category.

The policy states that only green food and drinks can be promoted and does not allow red items for fundraising, events and prizes.

More than 200 food providers across 25 WA Health system sites, including 156 vending machines and 52 cafés, kiosks and canteens were audited.

The audit did not assess food served to patients.

The audit at Esperance Health Campus assessed one vending machine.

The report found 47 per cent of audited food providers across WA were compliant.

Metropolitan hospitals had higher levels of compliance than regional hospitals, with Fremantle and Bentley Hospital recording the highest levels of compliance.

A spokesperson for the WA Country Health Service said the organisation accepted the findings of the audit.

"The organisation has been progressively implementing the requirements of the policy and will be making further progress toward compliance," the spokesperson said.

"Helping Western Australians to make healthy choices and avoid chronic disease forms part of the WA Country Health Services ongoing commitment to helping country West Australians live longer, happier and healthier lives."

Health Minister Roger Cook said a third of health impacts from chronic diseases could be prevented by supporting changes in eating and exercise habits .

"Hospitals should be the exemplars of our healthy eating policy, this does not mean banning unhealthy food and denying the sale of treats, but they should offer choices that support healthy living," Mr Cook said.

"We also want to enable people that visit our health system to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

"We want to avoid situations where a person has no choice but to choose an unhealthy food or drink."

Mr Cook said while hospitals were yet to reach full compliance, further work had been done since the audit, and each site had received specific feedback.