Government launches review of hospital food

The Government has announced it will work with the NHS to improve food quality in hospitals and provide consistently safe, nutritious and tasty food.

The review follows the deaths of six people linked to an outbreak of listeria in contaminated food earlier this year.

It aims to improve public confidence in hospital food by setting out clear ambitions for delivering high-quality food to patients and the public.

The probe will consider:

  • How food can help aid faster recovery, taking into account the unique needs of vulnerable groups.

  • Consult national bodies such as the Soil Association and National Caterers Association to source local food services and reduce reliance on frozen or packaged foods.

  • New systems to monitor food safety and quality more transparently, including looking at how NHS boards are held to account.

  • How the NHS can be a standard bearer for healthier choices for patients, staff and visitors.

  • More healthy food options for NHS staff, particularly for night staff.

  • Sustainability and environmental impact of the whole supply chain.

  • How to ensure quality and value for the taxpayer.

The review will also look at how to increase the number of hospitals with their own kitchens and chefs.

New national standards for healthcare food

These will be developed by NHS England, NHS Improvement, and Public Health England (PHE) in order to address the variability in quality and nutritional value of the more than 140 million meals served to patients across the country.

The new standards will reflect government nutritional advice, as outlined in PHE’s Eatwell guide.

Seeking best practice

Phil Shelley, the Chairman of the Hospital Food Review will consult catering managers at trusts across the country, who are leading the way in food quality and innovation.

He will also consult restaurateur and celebrity chef, Prue Leith, drawing on her experience working in catering, high-quality restaurants and as a former chair of the School Food Trust.

Leith has previously spoken out on the need for hospitals to provide healthy options that aid recovery and for meals to be tailored to the individual needs of the patient.

World-class care

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “Since entering Downing Street, my focus has been to ensure our world-class NHS has everything it needs to continue providing the very best frontline care.

“Guaranteeing hospitals serve nutritional, tasty and fresh meals will not only aid patient recovery, but also fuel staff and visitors as they care for loved ones and the vulnerable.

“Our NHS has led the way since the day it was formed. And this review will ensure it remains the standard-bearer for healthy choices.”-

And Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, added: “When people are in hospital, they should be given all the help they can to get better. That includes the best, most-delicious and nutritious food to help them recover and leave hospital as quickly as possible. I’m delighted we’ve assembled a first-rate group to drive this agenda.

“I have seen first-hand how using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and cooking from scratch have improved the quality of their meals and I want to help more hospitals follow suit by sharing what works best across the country.