NHS staff prepare to deliver 400,000 Christmas lunches and 1,800 babies

The NHS Diabetes Prevention Program has been launched across Norfolk. Photo: James Bass.

The NHS Diabetes Prevention Program has been launched across Norfolk. Photo: James Bass. - Credit: Evening News © 2009

The NHS is gearing up for delivering nearly 400,000 Christmas lunches - and 1,800 Christmas babies.

Cooks will serve up food to patients spending the festive period in hospital, while 12,000 midwives will be on duty for babies born on Christmas Day.

Around a million people are expected to work on Christmas Day in the UK, with NHS staff making up a high proportion of those missing out on festive fun.

Around 97,000 nurses and 53,000 healthcare assistants will be working in hospitals, while in care homes across England some 200,000 care workers will support the vulnerable and elderly.

Some 1.5 million items of linen including bedsheets will be used in hospitals, while nearly 40,000 cleaners and more than 12,000 porters will be on duty.

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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'I want to thank everyone across our health and care system, from the cooks making hundreds of thousands of Christmas dinners to the cleaners, nurses, doctors, care workers, paramedics and countless other staff making sure patients get outstanding care this Christmas.

'No-one wants to be away from home over Christmas but I know that staff are again pulling out all the stops so patients have the best possible time.'

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Meanwhile, the NHS has offered a series of tips for making Christmas dinners healthier - including not eating the turkey skin and swapping roast potatoes for baked spuds.

The advice says to serve plenty of vegetables - but do not smother them in butter - and highlights the health benefits of Brussels sprouts, which contain both folate, a B vitamin and vitamin C, which can help protect against heart disease and cancer.

The NHS guidance also notes that sprouts contain fibre 'which helps to keep the digestive system healthy' - something which could be essential given the amount Britons are expected to eat over the Christmas period.

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