Criteria for the Healthcare Retail Standard

Document details the criteria, rationale and scope of the Healthcare Retail Standard for all retail providers operating in the NHS in Scotland. This standard will become mandatory in accordance with CMO letter (2015)19.

Criteria for the Healthcare Retail Standard


1. This document sets out criteria for the Healthcare Retail Standard (HRS).

2. Chief Executive Letter (CEL) 01 (2012) sets out the vision under the health promoting health service that "every healthcare contact is a health improvement opportunity". On food and health, boards were required to:

"develop a consistent approach to healthy eating for all food service providers across the NHS. Caterers will be required to follow Healthyliving Award (HLA) criteria at the point of contract (re)negotiation and retailers will be required to join the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) Healthyliving Programme (HLP) and meet their Gold Standard criteria at the point of contract (re)negotiation."

3. The criteria set in this document form the HRS that retailers need to follow as outlined in the successor to (CEL) 01 (2012), due to take effect from 1 September 2015. Timescales for compliance are detailed in that document. Practical guidance on how retailers can meet the criteria in this document will be produced by the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) Healthy Living Programme.

4. This document has been developed with the kind assistance of NHS Health Scotland, NHS National Services Scotland, Food Standards Scotland and the Scottish Grocers Federation with images courtesy of the Royal Voluntary Service and SGF Healthy Living Programme.


5. The criteria in this document apply to all retail outlets (including trolley services) as defined in the box below in healthcare buildings in Scotland, whether the outlet or hospital is run by the voluntary, private or public sector. It does not apply to catering outlets although mixed outlets with a significant retail element will be expected to attain the HRS as well as the Healthyliving Award.

6. The HRS applies only to those retail outlets within healthcare buildings. Retailers interested in joining the Healthy Living Programme for shops outside healthcare buildings should view for more information.

7. For this paper a 'healthcare building' is any facility where medical care or healthcare administration is provided under the auspices of NHS Scotland.

8. The HRS does not apply to any vending operation. Vending operations should follow criteria laid down under the Healthyliving Award plus.

9. The criteria contained in this paper serve as a minimum requirement. Boards are free to apply stricter criteria in line with local policies if they wish.

Key Principles for the HRS

10. The criteria for the HRS is therefore underpinned by the following key principles:

a. consistency with the Health Promoting Health Service vision;
b. comparability of approach to healthy eating alongside the HLA plus
c. Supportive of the Scottish Dietary Goals;
d. Consistency with all of the commitments in and ethos of Supporting Healthy Choices; and
e. Equally commercially and practically viable for all retailers.

This paper refers to catering, retail and mixed outlets and trolley services. In this paper their meaning is as follows:

Catering outlets are those where most food is prepared before it is served to the customer either to be consumed on-site or taken away. An example would be a tea bar, restaurant or vending operation. Catering outlets in healthcare buildings should comply with the healthyliving award (HLA) plus.

Retail outlets are those where food is not prepared on-site, rather it is ready for immediate purchase. Examples include a convenience store, newsagent, mobile or pop-up store or trolley service. Retail outlets in healthcare buildings should comply with the SGF Healthcare Retail Standard (HRS).

Mixed outlets offer a combination of catering and retail provision. Mixed outlets in healthcare buildings should comply with both the SGF Healthcare Retail Standard (HRS) and the healthyliving award (HLA) plus. For these outlets, a single assessment will apply in accordance with whatever is the predominant activity - retail or catering.

SGF Healthcare Retail Standard Criteria

11. The HRS differs from the regular SGF Healthy Living Programme in that it consists of specific criteria:

  • Provision Criteria - to ensure that any retail outlet in a healthcare building provides a range of food items that are not high in fat, salt and sugar. The general principle is that 50% of food items (and 70% of drinks) must meet the Provision Criteria shown at Annex A.
  • Promotions Criteria for Individual Products - for individual food items/products that the Scottish population should be eating more of (e.g. fruit and vegetables) and should be promoted. Of the items that meet the above Provision Criteria, only those that meet the Promotion Criteria at Annex A may be promoted. This includes special deals (e.g. price or quantity discounts) and prominent in-store placement (e.g. at the till). Promotion Criteria are shown at Annex A.
  • Promotions Criteria for Meal Deals - All meal deals must contain only options in accordance with the Promotion Criteria in Annex A. Meal deals should follow the following guiding principles:
    • Meals should be based around starchy carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta;
    • Meals should contain a portion of fruit and/or vegetables; and
    • Items included should not be high in fats, salt or sugars.

12. It should be noted that the criteria do not apply to non-food items. In addition, the criteria allow retailers some scope to stock items that do not meet any criteria, as illustrated in the example diagram below:

At least 50% of food for retail must meet the Provision Criteria (some of this will also meet the Promotion Criteria and may be promoted). No more than 50% of food for retail can fail to meet the Provision Criteria (none of this food may be promoted). Non-food items

Implementation and Monitoring

13. The HRS will be implemented in line with timescales set out in the 2015/16 NHS Chief Executive Letter on the Health Promoting Health Service as follows:

  • NHS Boards will be expected to meet targets for all in-house retail outlets;
  • Voluntary sector organisations will be asked by NHS National Services Scotland to meet targets for all voluntary sector-run retail outlets. Such outlets should be supported locally by NHS Boards to achieve the HRS; and
  • NHS Boards will be required to have the HRS entrenched as a requirement in any contract they negotiate with any private sector retail outlet.

14. The HRS will have in place a monitoring scheme run by the SGF Healthy Living Programme to ensure that outlets who have the HRS continue to meet the scheme's criteria. Such quality assurance visits will be held at least once every two years.


Email: Peter Faassen de Heer

Back to top