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Hospital Food Review offers eight actions to improve patient meals

26th Oct 2020 - 05:00
hospital food review prue leith phil shelley
The Hospital Food Review, published today (Monday, October 26th), proposes eight recommendations to help improve the quality of meals served to patients, staff and visitors by NHS Trusts across 1,200 hospitals nationwide.

These include food and drink standards, with a particular focus on food safety, also kitchen upgrades, digital meal ordering systems, the professionalisation of the catering service, cutting food waste and the appointment of a monitoring group to ensure compliance.

The original report was to be published in March, but was delayed by the impact of the coronavirus.

The report authors say: “Hospital food is not always seen as a priority. Some people might say that the NHS has bigger priorities at the moment.

“The Government is facing an unprecedented economic downturn and is under a huge amount of spending pressure to support struggling sectors to stay afloat and to kickstart the economy. It would be easy for hospital food, yet again, to be deprioritised. That would be a mistake.

“The pandemic has shone a light on the importance of good food and proper nutrition, including both the effects of food insecurity and malnutrition and the effects of obesity.”

The review was chaired by Philip Shelley, who is in charge of catering at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and is a former chair of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA). He was joined by celebrity chef and hospital food campaigner Prue Leith, who was an independent adviser, and a panel of hospital caterers, dietitians and other specialists.

In their foreword they say: “We have been impressed with the open and co-operative attitude we have found in most hospitals and the freely-offered help of doctors, dietitians and other experts.

“The reassuring fact is that both caterers and nursing staff want to serve patients with food that is delicious and appreciated, and many feel ashamed and humiliated if they are unable to do so.

“Our recommendations are clear and comprehensive. They cover staff, nutrition and hydration, food safety, facilities, technology, sustainability, enforcing standards, and the way forward.”

The review has been welcomed by the HCA, with chair Craig Smith saying: “These recommendations are excellent, and we fully support them.

“And I am delighted to see the review has adopted many of the HCA’s core platforms and puts food at the heart of the service. It recognises and agrees with our campaigns such as the Last Nine Yards, Power of 3, Nutrition and Hydration 24/7, the focus on the patient experience and the underlying need to ‘get it right’ at the point of service.

“Most importantly, like the HCA, it recognises that food is a fundamental and important part of a patient’s recovery.”

But he warns that unless the recommendations are backed, financially and politically, nothing will change.

“We simply can’t move forward without capital investment in our hospital catering operations, and we urge the Government to release details of funding plans to support these initiatives.”

* Public Sector Catering magazine is hosting a webinar on the Hospital Food Review tomorrow (October 27th) starting at 2.30pm for an hour.

It will feature an interview with the chair of the review Phil Shelley followed by a panel discussion about its findings and a look at what happens next when Phil will be joined by HCA Chair Craig Smith and the chief executive of healthcare food company Apetito UK Paul Freeston.

You can register to join the webinar here:

To download a copy of the full report click in the link below:


Written by
David Foad