"We really need to get this right now." Those are the words of Prue Leith, Celebrity Chef and Independent Adviser to the Hospital Food Review, in a pre-recorded video introduction to the Chefs' Forum’s Hospital Catering Sector Seminar, hosted in partnership with RATIONAL earlier this week. Prue also stated that hospitals that need funding to implement the recommendations would get the money.
Phil Shelley, Chair of the Independent Review of NHS Hospital Food, urged hospital caterers to step out of their comfort zone and make change happen.
It is clear that there are many differences between this review and previous attempts to introduce improvements to hospital catering, one of the key among them being the fact that this review is owned by NHS hospital caterers themselves. Whilst those leading the review are important, the change is going to come from the efforts, hard work, enthusiasm and commitment of hospital catering staff at every organisation across the country.
Past National Chair of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA), Craig Smith echoed Phil's comments. "This is the opportunity that’s been given to us. We can make it happen."
Phil confirmed that the Exemplar Trusts will be extended to 30 over the next few months. These will share learning and work with others to align all NHS hospitals on the journey to deliver the highest standards of food and service on all occasions and at all times, regardless of the style of service, the size of the hospital or how well-equipped the kitchen is.
The interview process to appoint individuals to the Expert Group, seen as a crucial part of ensuring the success of this review, has also begun. The Expert Group will comprise nine individuals, including the roles of chef, catering manager, clinician, nurse and a dietary expert.
The Expert Group is being kept to small numbers, but the sub groups will be large. “Everybody needs to have a view to take this forward,” Phil stressed. “Whatever you do at work, second best is not good enough. We should demand the very highest standards in healthcare, whether that's for food safety, in the way we purchase our equipment, the food that we procure, the relationships that we have - and we are incredibly proud of that - and the skills that we desire.”
On June 16, the first in HEFMA's 2021 Virtual Series, in association with the HCA, will provide a further update on the progress of the Hospital Food Review. Phil Shelley will provide an overview of activities and progress so far, followed by expert speakers on food waste and staff training. The event is free to attend for members of HEFMA and the HCA. Register here.