Prince Charles slams quality of hospital food

Prince commends 14 NHS trusts for succeeding where many are failing

Staff from 14 NHS hospital trusts rubbed shoulders with Prince Charles recently as part of a reception celebrating excellence in hospital catering.

The organisations were identified as promoting best practice by the Soil Association through its First Aid for Hospital Food report published last year and were invited to meet its Royal patron, who is actively involved in the drive to provide better food for patients in hospitals.

The prince said: “It is surely self evident that the food hospital patients are given should be prepared in a way that helps, rather than hinders, the process of recovery.

“A well-executed bangers and mash, for instance, will probably do more for a patient than a fancy signature dish with terrible ingredients and too much fat.

“I can only hope that in the coming years we will be able to persuade many more hospitals – and I am afraid there are rather a lot still on the list – to match the remarkable achievements of those here today.”

It is surely self evident that the food hospital patients are given should be prepared in a way that helps, rather than hinders, the process of recovery

The Soil Association report showed the bad reputation of hospital food is all too often deserved, with every independent survey since 1963 concluding that what is currently offered is neither appetising nor nutritious.

The trailblazing trusts attending the event have improved their services in areas including locally sourcing ingredients, which improves the freshness of the food served and helps to cut carbon emissions and support the local economy.

The trusts invited were: Royal Brompton Hospital, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation, North Bristol NHS Trust, South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Darlington Memorial Hospital, Braintree Community Hospital, Bedford Memorial Hospital, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, St Andrews Healthcare Trust and NHS Lothian.

I can only hope that in the coming years we will be able to persuade many more hospitals – and I am afraid there are rather a lot still on the list – to match the remarkable achievements of those here today

The Soil Association’s policy director, Peter Melchett, said: “All too frequently the food served in our hospitals is more appropriate to a disease service than a health service. Overall, hospital food is a national scandal, but all the hospitals attending this event provide the blueprints for national reform - practical examples which demonstrate that really good hospital food needn't cost more.”

Dr Patrick Geoghegan, chief executive of South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), said his team was thrilled to be one of those singled out for praise.

He added: “I’m delighted the Soil Association has identified SEPT as a healthcare provider which promotes the sourcing of local, seasonal, organic food, cutting food miles, boosting the local economies and serving healthier, fresher meals to our patients. This will positively assist their recovery, which is great news as patient care is my number one concern and I congratulate all involved in the excellent work and the Soil Association for its endorsement of the high catering standards in SEPT hospitals.”

All too frequently the food served in our hospitals is more appropriate to a disease service than a health service

And Mike Duckett, catering manager at the Royal Brompton Hospital, said: “We pride ourselves on cooking every meal on the premises using fresh, local ingredients. Around 30% of food is organic or locally sourced, with organic meats appearing on the menu at least once a week. We also ensure that there is a halal and a vegetarian option on every menu and that special diets are catered for.”

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