New report slams hospital food standards

22 February 2013

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A new report has heavily criticised what it describes as "20 years of failure" in hospital food standards.

The publication, which has been released by food standards campaign group Sustain, says £54 million has been wasted on failed attempts to improve hospital meals.

It claims: "Low quality, unhealthy and unpopular patient meals have plagued our hospital wards for decades."

The report records each of the "failed hospital food initiatives" launched by the government since 1992. It also analyses all of the schemes that have been run without government aid, such as those by charities, medical organisations and celebrity chefs.

The report claims the £54 million of taxpayers' money spent between 1992 and 2013 is enough to pay for the creation of 34 new hospital kitchens.

It estimates over three and a half billion meals that did not have to meet any quality standards have been served to patients. It is believed one in ten of these was thrown away uneaten.

Sustain argues the government ignored at least 14 warnings from numerous sources that voluntary schemes concerning hospital food were failing. Eleven different health secretaries have been in office in the period covered by the report, with each one having enough time to launch at least two voluntary projects each.

The report's findings have received the backing of celebrity chefs who had previously been involved with projects to improve hospital food.

Loyd Grossman said: "Serving fresh and nutritious hospital food is vital to improving patient health, and to raising morale amongst NHS staff, patients and their families."

He added he had worked for five years to improve meals in hospitals, but his efforts were hampered by a "lack of political will".

These sentiments were echoed by Albert Roux, who commented: "We must not think that high quality hospital food is too difficult or expensive to achieve. After all, simple food is often the best food and buying fresh seasonal produce is cheap to buy."

Sustain has called for the government to follow the examples set by Scotland and Wales and introduce compulsory health and sustainability standards for hospital food in England.

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