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New standards for hospital food, but will they make any difference?

We had just landed back at Bristol on Friday morning when Sky news called to ask if I would be available for an interview about the hospital food story. What hospital food story, I wondered, not having seen the news for a week.

The story

This was an unusual story because there was no one event that first triggered the coverage. There was no press release, no journal article. This story seemed to start from a Daily Mail article on Saturday 23rd August, with the headline "Will this food really help the sick?" The online article appeared the day before.

The Mail followed up Steven Williams' photos of his dire hospital food with an article showing more picture of dire hospital food from the National Hungry Service ha ha. The BBC has their own photo gallery here.

This isn't a new story, however. The BBC have been covering Chef James Martin's campaign to improve hospital food  since September 2011. A second series started in February 2013 and the third series aired in February 2014.

A hospital chef anonymously shared some of the issues in February 2014. One of the primary concerns, as James Martin alerted us to, must be the phasing out of kitchens in new hospitals. Fewer and fewer premises are preparing food on site - food comes into the hospital in plastic trays to be reheated and served. This can never achieve optimal standards for quality and freshness.

Campaign group, Sustain, have been champions of this issue for many years. Sustain has been highly critical of the lack of progress saying that "Since 1992 Government has appointed a number of celebrities and celebrity chefs to lead failed voluntary initiatives to improve hospital food, wasting more than £54 million of taxpayers' money in the process." It is interesting to note in the government report released on August 29th 2014 that Sustain withdrew from the panel making the recommendations. It is probably safe to assume that Sustain were not impressed with the direction of travel. We'll come to this government report next...


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