United Kingdom

Hospital patients will be able to order food 24 hours a day following review led by Prue Leith

Hospital patients will be able to order meals around the clock to their bedside under plans to revolutionise NHS food.

A blueprint for hospital catering has been issued by the Government following a year-long review led by Bake Off judge Prue Leith.

Kitchens will be upgraded so that food, snacks and hot drinks are available 24 hours a day, for example allowing tired new mothers to have a warm meal after giving birth in the night.

Digital menus will also be introduced across the NHS by 2022, meaning patients could order meals and snacks on phones or iPads at their bedsides.

A blueprint for hospital catering has been issued by the Government following a year-long review led by Bake Off judge Prue Leith (pictured)

Hospital patients will be able to order meals around the clock to their bedside under plans to revolutionise NHS food allowing tired new mothers to have a warm meal after giving birth in the night (file image)

The review was commissioned by Boris Johnson last August after six patients died from listeria which they contracted from hospital sandwiches and salads.

Miss Leith, 80, and other advisers visited catering managers, staff and patients across the country between September and March.

The review team last night issued a wide-ranging series of recommendations, some of which will be implemented immediately.

Miss Leith said: ‘Food is not only important to health, but to morale. Hospital mealtimes should be a moment of enjoyment and a pleasure to serve. They should inspire staff, patients and visitors to eat well at home.’

The Government will today establish an expert group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses to take forward the recommendations and decide on next steps.

Other key recommendations include introducing digital menus and food ordering systems, which can factor in a patient’s preferences and nutritional needs.

National standards for NHS chefs will be introduced, while nurses and dieticians will have a greater role in hospital food services.

The NHS serves 140million meals to patients every year, and has a further 1.25million members of staff who require food and drink on shift. However, four in ten hospital staff say that catering facilities in their workplaces are poor. Campaigners have found that some hospitals spend as little as £2 a day on feeding each patient.

Kitchens will be upgraded so that food, snacks and hot drinks are available 24 hours a day (file image)

Hospitals also rely on pre-packaged sandwiches and salads, but these are particularly susceptible to food poisoning and were responsible for the six listeria deaths last year.

Rachel Power of The Patients Association said: ‘Good food is essential for patient recovery so this review could be game-changing. But only if the recommendations are implemented in full.’

n Miss Leith has reportedly quit the Tory party after the Government blocked an attempt to enshrine high food standards in law after Brexit. She is said to be unhappy at the prospect of Britain being flooded with inferior food as a result of a post-Brexit trade deal with America.

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