Bake off judge set on to improve hospital food after six died including a Derbyshire man following listeria outbreak

Royal Derby Hospital.
Royal Derby Hospital.

Yet another celebrity chef has been recruited to front a Government campaign to improve hospital food after six patients died after eating bought-in NHS sandwiches and salads.

Bake Off judge Prue Leith has been recruited by the Prime Minister to improve the standards of hospital food.

Derbyshire man Ian Hitchcock died after falling victim to a listeria outbreak linked to the pre-packaged food in June this year.

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

The Prime Minister has now pledged to ensure patients are served ‘nutritional, tasty and fresh meals’, eliminate junk food and increase in-house catering.

Celebrity chef Prue Leith will carry out a root and branch review of national standards.

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

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. Our NHS has led the way since the day it was formed. This review will ensure it remains the standard-bearer for healthy choices."

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.

Miss Leith, 79, 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."

Ian Hitchcock, 52, of Matlock had been diagnosed with liver cancer on May 7. He was admitted to the Royal Derby Hospital for treatment on May 15 but was subsequently diagnosed with listeria and was transferred to the Nottingham City Hospital, where he died on June 8.

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The review is the latest in a line of Government promises to improve hospital food.

It will look at hospitals that currently have high food standards to see what other NHS trusts can learn from them.Hospital caterers, patient groups, suppliers and kitchen staff will be consulted – as well as national bodies such as the Soil Association and National Caterers Association to look at how Trusts can benefit more from local and fresh produce.

Critics have warned millions of pounds of investment was needed to back up any changes recommended.