Royal recognition for excellence in hospital food across the UK
14 December 2011
At a reception hosted by The Prince of Wales at Clarence House on Thursday 15 December, fourteen hospitals from around the country will be congratulated for the excellent work they have done to improve the food in their hospitals, as identified by the Soil Association.
The event will celebrate the best of British hospital food with fourteen of the UK’s highest achieving hospitals in attendance, with several guests from each hospital including chairs or chief executives of the hospitals trusts, catering managers, people who serve food on wards, patient representatives, and local farmers who supply the hospitals.
HRH The Prince of Wales long been actively involved in the drive towards better hospital food and has been working with the Soil Association, as our Royal Patron, since 2004. At a Soil Association event, which took place at the Royal Brompton in 2008, he encouraged NHS hospital trust chief executives to improve the quality of hospital food, saying “we are what we eat…we go into hospital to get well, so what we eat must help, not hinder that process.”
Many of those attending the event on Thursday are from hospitals that were featured as success stories in the Soil Association’s 'First aid for hospital food' report released earlier this year, exposing the often shocking state of hospital food in Britain today. It showed that hospital food’s rotten reputation is often richly deserved and that every independent survey of hospital food since 1963 has concluded that NHS food is neither appetising nor nutritious. Indeed, identity of the food in many of the pictures we received from patients remains a mystery.
While negative reports on hospital food will surprise few, the report was also full of success stories. Improvements in quality, local food sourcing improved patients’ food were made, without inflating hospital budgets. In fact, a significant number of hospitals were found to be already sourcing local, seasonal, organic food, cutting their food miles, boosting their local economies and serving healthier, fresher meals to their patients within tight budgets. In some cases the swithc even actually saved money.
The hospitals that will be attending the event are Royal Brompton Hospital, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation, North Bristol NHS Trust, South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), 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.
All of these hospitals represent the highest achievements in hospital catering. As Soil Association Policy Director Peter Melchett pointed out, "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 ‘best of British hospital food’ event provide the blueprints for national reform - practical examples which demonstrate that really good hospital food needn't cost more.”