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Culinary School Pioneer Prue Leith Renews Hospital Food Campaign

The Leith’s founder and Great British Bake Off judge will advise on a new review of food for patients on the NHS

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Prue Leith joins government hospital food review of NHS meals Photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images

The government is looking at hospital food, again

Former Michelin-starred London restaurateur, culinary school pioneer, and now Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith will advise on the new Hospital Food Review. Leith, who has backed the Campaign for Better Hospital Food since the mid 2010s, 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.”

The review, in its own words, is designed to “increase public confidence” in hospital food after a listeria outbreak at an NHS-contracted catering company killed six people earlier this year. It is far from the first time that a sitting government has ordered a review into hospital food spearheaded by a public figure: Loyd Grossman, he of the pasta sauces, led the Better Hospital Food Panel in 2001, but it was quietly disbanded in the face of facilities and recipes still based on the needs of wounded soldiers. Heston Blumenthal tried to make things better with molecular gastronomy. In 2017, Leith found that the NHS’s Standard Contract — regulations around food quality, service, and availability — was insufficient and ignored by over 50 percent of hospitals surveyed.

The reality is: Leith’s advocacy and knowledge will be indispensable, but she alone — and indeed, any public figure in the food world — cannot be heralded as the great fixer of systemically inadequate infrastructure and funding. This crops up in hospital food; in prison food; with school dinners; with chefs being billed as the great hopes of redistributing the world’s food system. Funding, sustained, increased, ringfenced, accountable funding, is what is required to improve the state of hospital food. Will this review deliver? Time will tell. [ITV News]

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