Major Review of Hospital Food after Listeria Deaths
The government has asked Celebrity Great British Bake Off chef Pru Leith to lead a major new review of hospital catering. The review follows the tragic deaths of 6 people in a listeria outbreak hospitals across the UK. The outbreak came from people eating pre-packaged food supplied to hospitals.
The review will;
- focus on driving up quality to make healthier and more sustainable meals
- reduce dependence on prepacked sandwiches and salads,
- examine whether catering should be brought in-house
- and establish national standards.
17 initiatives since 2000 and no discernible improvement in hospital food
The announcement has been met with a jaded response in some quarters as other famous chefs have been involved in similar reviews over many years; Albert Roux was asked more than 25 years ago, then Lloyd Grossman, Heston Blumenthal and recently James Martin. However a 2013 a report found that over £50m has been wasted on failed schemes to improve food quality in hospitals. Previous schemes relied on hospitals to voluntarily follow recommended standards. The 2013 report concluded that hospitals need national quality standards to be enforced for any improvement to occur.
Fresh locally sourced food is aim of the review
Outsourcing is one of the key issues the report is expected to address. But not every hospital has the capacity to provide in-house catering. Given that many hospitals spend £3 per meal, building kitchens and meeting the specific dietary requirements of individual patients will be very challenging for many hospitals.
Lucy Watson chair of the Patients Association said ‘across the country the consistency of the quality of food provided for patients… is very variable… this review, trying to bring fresh food and food prepared on-site back into our local hospitals is very welcome’.
Rob Percival head of food policy at the Soil Association which has a programme called Food For Life which supports NHS hospitals said ‘we know that it’s possible to serve freshly prepared high quality meals… in a cost neutral manner and the feedback from patients.. has been hugely positive’.
Pru Leith said; “Over the years, I’ve campaigned quite often with different organisations about hospital food because it seems to me so obvious that if you’re in a hospital you need to be fed healthily. Food is medicine.”