How many hot drinks and free cookies is too much?

cup of coffee

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When free hot drinks and cookies are offered to healthcare workers, what is a reasonable amount to drink before being considered “excessive,” ask researchers in the Christmas issue. belong to BMJ?

Maybe some employees are “taking the cookie” while others end up only getting the end of the teaspoon?

And could imposing limits on free employee refreshments achieve anything other than fueling outrage and even counterintuitively increasing consumption?

To find out, they surveyed 1,874 healthcare workers and academics, asking how many hot drinks and free biscuits they would drink during a hospital library visit before looking at their consumption. is “excessive”.

After collecting data over a four-week period, they found that respondents would drink an average of 3.32 drinks before deeming it excessive.

This number is slightly higher than the average number of hot drinks that respondents consume in a typical day when they provide their own refreshments (3.04). Coffee was the beverage of choice for more than half of the respondents.

The highest number of free hot drinks accepted varies by beverage selection. For example, respondents who prefer free coffee drink more cups during a visit than those who prefer free tea (average 3.44 versus 3.29).

Working department or clinical specialty also seems to have an impact on the amount of free drinks considered excessive. For example, GPs will consume more complimentary hot drinks than staff working in the emergency department (3.67 versus 3.22 on average).

Regardless of drink choice, respondents considered getting more than an average of 2.25 packets of free cookies to be excessive.

This varies by role, with doctors having a slightly higher threshold for the number of packages taken than non-physicians (mean 2.35 vs 2.14).

The number of packages deemed excessive also varied over time taking on a role (average 2.89 for those taking on a role less than two years versus 2.16 for those taking on more than two years). eight years).

Although no formal cost-effectiveness assessment has been carried out, the researchers estimate that a centrally funded initiative to give all NHS staff three hot drinks per day (excluding milk) would cost around £32,692,935 (€37,987,556; $39.570,875) per year.

Providing two extra packs of small biscuits daily to each NHS worker at a cost of 25p each would cost £128,188,286 annually; this equates to a total refreshment cost of £160,881,221 per year, or no more than 0.084 per cent of the NHS budget.

The researchers pointed out that office staff previously identified free hot drinks as a more important workplace benefit than free support for mental healthand free coffee is associated with improved morale and productivity.

“Given current concerns over morale, recruitment and retention of NHS staff, the estimated £21.7 billion cost of a potential employee exodus and well-documented challenges for health care providers and social careproviding free hot drinks and cookies can be a worthwhile and cost-effective expense,” they wrote.

They note that limiting the supply of cookies and hot drinks is certainly not in keeping with the holiday spirit, and they suggest that healthcare employers “should allow employees to provide free biscuits and hot drinks, and they should let these grateful recipients judge for themselves what constitutes rational consumption.”

More information:
Get the cookies: determine the excessive amount of free refreshments in the healthcare library, BMJ (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bmj-2022-072846

quote: How many hot drinks and free cookies is too much? (2022, 19 Dec) get December 19, 2022 from

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