A FORMER head chef who revolutionised meal times at Musgrove is off to spread the secret of his success to hospitals across the country.

Phil Shelley has left the Taunton hospital he joined 28 years ago as head chef.

During his time at Musgrove, Mr Shelley has undertaken various management roles.

But he is best known for his commitment to patient care through nutrition and healthy eating.

His work earned him national recognition across the NHS and saw him become a member of the Hospital Food Standards Committee, chairman of the Hospital Caterers Association and more recently chairman of the NHS food review, working with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and restaurateur and food writer Prue Leith.

He has now taken up the post of senior operational policy manager with the NHS with a brief to convince hospitals to implement steps to ensure patients are given tastier, healthier and better-quality meals.

Mr Shelley will be a member of an expert group of NHS caterers, dietitians and nurses to take forward implementation of the NHS food review findings.

Among the recommendations of the review published in October are upgrading hospital kitchens so a 24/7 service can be provided; agreeing national professional standards for NHS chefs; increasing the role of staff in overseeing food services so nutritious meals are part of a patient's recovery plan; and implementing technology solutions, such as a digital menu and food ordering system which can factor in a patient’s dietary and cultural requirements and nutritional needs.

Mr Shelley, who at the time said nutrition and hydration should be a high priority in hospitals, said the quality of NHS food is generally high across England, although there are areas that could be improved.

He told the County Gazette: "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.

"And 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."

Commenting on Mr Shelley's departure from Musgrove, Peter Lewis, chief executive at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust which runs the hospital, said: "Phil has made a fantastic contribution during his time at Musgrove Park Hospital and the NHS and I want to say a huge thank you to him for everything he has done.

"Phil will be very missed, but we are proud that he is taking on such an important national role."