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James Martin to tackle hospital food in BBC series

05 September 2011 by
James Martin to tackle hospital food in BBC series

Celebrity chef James Martin has become the latest high-profile name to tackle the challenges of healthcare catering in a new BBC series, Operation Hospital Food.

The North Yorkshire-born chef worked alongside chefs at Scarborough hospital, where the budget is only £3.49 per patient per day for food, in a bid to change the way food served to patients is created.

Martin was moved to address the main issues surrounding hospital food after witnessing the food served to his grandmother, Marjorie, in the last four months of her life, spent at York Hospital.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, he said he was shocked by what he saw. "It was hard to see someone I loved so much apparently wasting away," he explained.

"For someone who'd loved her cakes, her butter and her bacon sandwiches so much, it was heartbreaking. They would bring her mashed potato and meat pies and tarts that were not just appalling but also chewy and tough. Elderly patients who can't swallow just want a bit of soup and ice-cream, because that's all they can manage."

In the five-part series the Saturday Kitchen presenter tackles some of the challenges affecting the delivery of hospital food, including the cost of meals, patient feedback and nutritional standards.

Three-Michelin starred chef Heston Blumenthal has also signed up to improve NHS food, in particular for the elderly. The Fat Duck chef is 16 months into a three-year collaboration with the NHS and Reading University to inject more flavour into traditional fare.

However, previous efforts by culinary heavyweights and Government to improve the standard of hospital food have been unsuccessful.

A 2010 report entitled A Decade of Hospital Food Failure found that the 17 separate schemes introduced since 2000, including the £40m Better Hospital Food Programme led by Lloyd Grossman, had resulted in almost no improvement to the quality, healthiness and environmental value of hospital food.

Heston Blumenthal working on NHS hospital food project >>

Government urged to go back to basics on hospital food >>

What's the cure for bad hospital food? >>

By Janie Stamford

E-mail your comments to Janie Stamford here.

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