Need for Pilbara sites to serve up healthier fare

Alexander Scott and Shannon BeattieNorth West Telegraph
A government audit found both Karratha Health Campus and Hedland Health Campus failed to provide adequate healthy eating options for visitors.
Camera IconA government audit found both Karratha Health Campus and Hedland Health Campus failed to provide adequate healthy eating options for visitors. Credit: Alicia Perera

The two biggest hospitals in the Pilbara have failed to comply with a State Government policy to provide adequate healthy eating options for visitors.

A report released by the Department of Health revealed that 48 per cent of WA hospitals were compliant with the Healthy Options WA Policy for WA Health Services and Facilities.

A three-month Statewide audit was carried out by the Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate, which applied a “traffic light” system to classify food and drinks into three categories from green being the healthiest to red as the least healthy.

As part of the policy, half of the food and drink options provided have to be classified as “green” which is high in nutrients, and low in saturated fat, added sugar and salt.

Only 20 per cent can be “red” which indicates they are high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar.

The two drink vending machines and cafe at the Hedland Health Campus were found to have zero compliance, with Karratha’s two mixed vending machines also failing to comply.

A spokeswoman for the WA Country Health Service said both campuses had made several improvements towards compliance since the November 2018 audit.

The spokeswoman said that the Hedland facility had worked with the vending content provider to ensure water options took up the majority of slots in the vending machine.

“While sugary carbonated soft drinks are available, they’re in much smaller quantities than previously,” she said.

The spokeswoman said they had been working with the privately owned and operated cafe at the Hedland campus to improve their healthy range content.

“While the Karratha campus did not initially meet the required target, the facility has since worked with the vending content provider to make significant improvements to the type of consumables available,” she said.

Cancer Council spokeswoman Anne Johnston said people who spent all day at a hospital were just going to grab whatever was available so it was important to make good choices.

The two campuses had a zero compliance rating in the 2016 audit.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails