Hospital food should be given same attention and respect as that made by "posh chefs" at fine dining restaurants, broadcaster and chef Prue Leith has said.
Addressing crowds today at HRC, the UK's largest event for the hospitality and foodservice industry, at ExCeL London, Leith said: "Posh chefs don't need any more pats on the back. We need hospital food to be thought of in the same way as posh chefs."
Leith, recruited in August 2019 as part of a group to advise on a government review into hospital food, 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.
The report, which, according to Leith, is nearing completion, will highlight three key findings following a tour that she undertook of 40 NHS hospitals where, she said, the quality of the food ranged from "good to bad and indifferent".
To improve hospital food she said dietitians must work directly with caterers rather than ‘ticking boxes' in offices; as well as emphasising the need for more money to be invested into catering; and for NHS trusts must move food up the priority list.
She also commented that she had been "astonished by the dedication" of all the staff she had met during the tour and concluded by saying she had "great hopes" that the report will bring about positive change in hospital food across the country.
The government has said it will work with the NHS to improve food quality and value in hospitals, provide more healthy options for NHS staff, bring in new systems to transparently monitor food safety and quality as well as considering the sustainability and environmental impact of the whole supply chain, and sourcing more food locally and reducing reliance on frozen, pre-packaged products.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has acknowledged the significant role that food plays with people's health and said he was determined that patients enjoy the best, most delicious and nutritious food to help them recover and leave hospital as quickly as possible. Hancock had ordered a "root and branch" review of hospital food following a listeria outbreak linked to pre-packed sandwiches served in hospitals, that resulted in several patient deaths.
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