Health

Bake Off judge Prue Leith joins hospital food improvement review

Prue Leith Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption Prue Leith will help to set new quality standards

Bake Off judge Prue Leith is the latest celebrity chef to be recruited in the quest to improve the food hospital patients eat.

The government is launching a review of hospital food, first announced in June, to set new quality standards for the 140 million meals served annually.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said better food would aid patients' recovery and "fuel" carers and family.

Leith said millions was wasted on "unpalatable" hospital food.

'Root and branch review'

Other famous chefs have been down this road before. More than 25 years ago Albert Roux was asked to do much the same thing - he was followed by Loyd Grossman and more recently James Martin.

Yet in 2013 a report found that more than £50m had been wasted not on poor food - but on failed schemes to improve quality.

This latest review follows the deaths of six people, linked to a listeria outbreak connected to pre-packaged sandwiches and salads supplied to a number of NHS hospitals.

Philip Shelley, former head of the Hospital Caterers Association, will chair what he said would be a "root and branch" review.

It will look at increasing the amount of in-house catering, as well as how hospitals can use less frozen food and more local, fresh produce.

Mr Johnson said: "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."

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Media captionPrue's tips for children's healthy eating

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."

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said: "Years of austerity mean that some hospitals are only spending close to £3 per patient a day on meals for patients - it's an utter disgrace."

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