THE man behind the food patients at Musgrove Park Hospital eat has led a review of NHS meals.

Phil Shelley, deputy head of facilities at the Taunton hospital, teamed up with Bake Off star Prue Leith and other experts to ensure patients and staff will enjoy tastier, healthier and better quality meals.

The results of their review, published today (Monday), recommend how NHS trusts can prioritise food safety and provide more nutritious meals.

The Government will establish a group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses to take forward implementation of the review’s findings.

Recommendations include:

upgrading hospital kitchens to provide a 24/7 service from a hot drink and snack in the night to a hot meal for new mums or patients hungry after a long fast due to surgery, plus facilities for staff to store, prepare and eat food at any time;

agreeing national professional standards for NHS chefs with mandatory career-long training;

increasing the role of nurses, dietitians, caterers and staff wellbeing leads in overseeing food services so nutritious meals are part of a patient’s recovery plan;

implementing a digital menu and food ordering system to factor in a patient’s dietary and cultural requirements and nutritional needs.

Mr Shelley said: “Being asked to lead this important review gave both me and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust a great deal of pride. It was a great acknowledgement that nutrition and hydration is such a high priority across our hospitals in Somerset.

"During my visits to hospitals across England I found that the quality of food being produced was generally very high, although there were of course areas that could be improved.

"I found that people I spoke to were open and honest about catering at their hospitals and throughout I noticed a consistent pride and loyalty in production, teamwork, presentation and communication.

"It’s widely accepted that if we are to empower recovery through food and drink, we need a whole hospital approach, linking directly with nursing and dietetics.

"We must also recognise that it is even more important in recent times that our staff have access to suitable food and drink, rest areas and time to pause.

"I hope this review helps us all to improve catering, food and nutrition in the NHS both now and for future generations."

Prue Leith said: "The review provides best-in-class examples of how hospitals can serve delicious, nutritious and eye-catching meals on a budget.

"Food is not only important to health, but to morale. Hospital mealtimes should be an occasion to eat and a pleasure to serve, and inspire staff, patients and visitors to cook and eat well at home."