Restaurateur, chef and Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith is set to advise on a government review into hospital food, it was announced this morning.
Leith, former chair of the School Food Trust and winner of the Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement award at the 2016 Shine Awards, 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 review follows the deaths of six hospital patients linked to an outbreak of listeria in contaminated food earlier this year and aims to improve public confidence in hospital food by setting out clear ambitions for delivering high-quality food to patients and the public.
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 monitor food safety and quality more transparently and consider the sustainability and environmental impact of the whole supply chain, as well as sourcing more food locally and reducing reliance on frozen, pre-packaged food.
The review is also being supported by national bodies such as the Soil Association and National Caterers Association.
Alongside this, new national standards for healthcare food for patients, staff and visitors will be developed by NHS England, NHS Improvement and Public Health England (PHE).
The review will also look at how to increase the number of hospitals with their own kitchens and who have their own chefs.
Chair of the Hospital Food Review, Phil Shelley, will meet with catering managers at trusts across the country, looking at best practice from those leading the way in food quality and innovation.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Since entering Downing Street, my focus has been clear – to make sure 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. This review will ensure it remains the standard-bearer for healthy choices, as it works unstintingly to improve the nation's well-being."
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock added: "We all know how important the food we eat is to our health. We have a duty to ensure this same level of attention is given to the food served to patients in hospital, or our brilliant NHS staff working tirelessly for patients – and indeed to visitors.
"When people are in hospital, they should be given all the help they can to get better – and that includes food. So I'm determined patients enjoy 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."