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Ms Leith was the latest celebrity cook to take on the challenge of millions being wasted on “unpalatable” food provided by the NHS. She followed in the footsteps of Albert Roux, Loyd Grossman and more recently James Martin who have all tried to help government reviews over the last 25 years. But this latest “root and branch review”, chaired by Philip Shelley, former head of the Hospital Caterers Association, was aimed at finding out what hospitals do well in providing nourishment for patients and what can be improved.
And ministers have promised an end to the image of hospital food as stodgy and tasteless.
Writing for the Sunday Express today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised huge changes to the food provided while people have to stay in hospitals.
He said: “We are thinking about the longer term. We’ve started a £3.7 billion hospital building programme – the biggest in a generation – with 40 new hospitals by 2030, which will incorporate catering facilities fit for patients, visitors and staff.
“I want our NHS to hospitals to be beacons of good health – places where staff and visitors, as well as patients, can look after their own health and set an example for the community.”
He said that the changes were aimed at benefiting NHS staff too who rely on hospital food at work.
He said: “Staff shouldn’t have to resort to crisps from a vending machine to keep them going on a long shift. Our plans will ensure they have access to healthy, tasty food as well as the facilities to prepare their own.”
He also noted that the coronavirus experience had helped shape the report.
“A key lesson from this pandemic is how vitally important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, alongside good food and nutrition. It’s why the Government is determined to make a difference through its obesity and food strategies, which the Prime Minister championed this summer.”
When the review was launched, Ms Leith said: Leith, who will act as an adviser to the review, said: “Millions of pounds are wasted in hospitals with food ending up in the bin, unpalatable food being the main complaint.
“I’m delighted that at long last Downing Street and the Department of Health have decided to do something about it.
“A hospital meal should be a small highlight, a little pleasure and comfort, and it should help, not hinder, the patient’s recovery.”
Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “We are pleased to see a full review of hospital food being undertaken and hope it leads to more nutritious and nourishing meals to help patients with their recovery.
“People should be able to look forward to their meals, particularly when dealing with the pressures and worries that a stay in hospital can bring, even with the best of care.”
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