More than 8000 sugar cubes eliminated in convenience store healthy food pilot  

Two Bermondsey shops are among five independent convenience stores in Southwark which have increased the healthy options available to consumers as part of a pilot scheme.

The Good Food Retail Plan is a pilot funded by the Greater London Authority, Sustain and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity to ensure that more Londoners have access to healthy, affordable food.

As part of the project the shop owners were supported to identify opportunities for increasing the healthy options available in their store. This could range from repositioning items, using different recipes to carrying new healthy lines of food and drinks.  

The scheme recognises that convenience stores play a vital role in their local communities as many customers use them on a daily basis to top up their food shopping.

The pilot stores all represent different types of store from the smaller neighbourhood store to the larger independent supermarket. Across all stores, regardless of square-footage, all store managers demonstrated that healthy changes could be made. 

The shops involved in the pilot are:

  • Nisa Local, Southwark Park Road 
  • St James Supermarket, Southwark Park Road 
  • Church News, New Church Road
  • Turkish Food Stores, Lordship Lane 
  • Nisa Day One, Camberwell Church Street

Across the fives stores over 50 new healthy lines have been introduced as well as selling more single fruits as healthy snacks. Nisa Local in Bermondsey switched to a no sugar slush puppie recipe resulting in a saving of approximately 80,000 calories from sales between July and September, equivalent to over 8,000 sugar cubes. Following the introduction of three new lines, wholemeal bread now makes up 20 per cent of bakery sales at the same store.

These stores are run by independent retailers who purchase their stock from their local cash and carry. They choose their range based on what they think their customers demand is rather than necessarily on whether the products are healthy. 

Cllr Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for community safety and public health, said: “It is really fantastic to see the commitment from these five shop owners to make a difference in the health of our residents. These shops exemplify how small changes can have a big impact on the choices people make.

“The role that local shops play in the lives of our residents cannot be underestimated and it’s so important that as much as possible there are healthy options available. These shop owners have proven that our residents do want healthy options and I hope other store owners will follow their lead.”

Ali, owner of Nisa Local Southwark Park Road said: “I eat quite healthily myself and I’m quite passionate about [healthy eating]. I wanted to get involved; it’s something I believe in as well. A lot of kids come here after schools so we wanted to offer them healthier things to eat so we put single pieces of fruit at the front that people can just take and go, non- salted nuts, sugar free drinks things like that. According to our sales data all these things that we’ve introduced into the store are selling, there’s a market for people that are more health conscious and want to eat healthy.”

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated Dr Shabir Bhatti of the Bermondsey Spa Medical Practice in Old Jamaica Road as inadequate and has placed the practice into special measures following an inspection in October 2015.

Placement into special measures means that the provider must now make necessary improvements or face action that could result in closure.

The Bermondsey Spa Medical Practice opened in 2011. Before then, it was known as the Parkers Row Family Practice and was based on the Dickens Estate north of Jamaica Road.

Under CQC’s programme of inspections, all primary medical services in England are being given a rating according to whether they are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led.

The full report has been published on the CQC website: http://www.cqc.org.uk/provider/1-199743152

Patients told inspectors that they experienced long waiting times for appointments and that it was very difficult to get through the practice when phoning to make an appointment. Patients also told inspectors that they were long delays when waiting to be seen for their booked appointments

However, some patients were positive about their interactions with staff, although some patients did raise concerns about a lack of concern and rude attitudes from reception and clinical staff on occasions.

CQC inspectors found that appropriate recruitment checks for staff had not been undertaken prior to their employment, and that there were insufficient arrangements to safeguard people from abuse.  Practice staff were not clear about reporting incidents, near misses and concerns and there was no evidence of learning and communication with staff.

Ursula Gallagher, Deputy Chief Inspector of General Practice, said:

When we are faced with a provider that is experiencing difficulties in providing adequate care for patients, our first instinct is to work with them to ensure that patient care improves.

We are confident that Dr Shabir Bhatti will take any necessary action to address the concerns we identified during our most recent inspection.

In particular, the provider must ensure that significant events are consistently recorded and discussed to share learning, and that appropriate staffing arrangements are put in place in order to improve patient access to appointments, reduce risks and improve patient safety.

We will re-inspect within six months to check whether sufficient improvements have been made. If sufficient improvements have not been made and there remains a rating of inadequate for any key question or overall, we will take further action which may include closure.