'Top of the pots' - Royal Berkshire comes up trumps for best hospital meals in NHS survey

Royal Berkshire Hospital and The Christie were ranked among the best - while Victoria Infirmary and Harrogate District Hospital were among the worst

The good, bad and ugly hospital food has now been revealed in a surprising new league table taste-testing NHS trusts' food offering across the country.

Hospital patients across the country have decided on the best and worst food in the country with England's best and worst offending food being highlighted.

The best had a 100% approval rating - while the worst barely scrapped above a 70% approval rating.

It follows a nationwide poll of patients and staff who were asked to score the meals based on the choice of food available, how hot it was served and how it tasted.

The private hospital group Bupa took the top spot with an approval rating of 100%, followed by the specialist cancer site Christie Foundation Trust in Manchester runners-up at 99.03%.

The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading was chosen as the third best in the country with a 98% approval rating.

Food being prepared in NHS hospital kitchens Credit: PA images

Sadly for patients at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust - they were voted as receiving the worst hospital food with an approval rating of 71.67%.

The Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was ranked second to last at 73.53%, while York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was third to last at 73.85%.

The national average from the ratings gathered after 1,580 reviews across 864 sites was 90.2%.

Those taking part in the survey were asked to evaulate the choice of food offered, the 24-hour availability, meal times and access to menus. 

An assessment of the food at the ward level was also undertaken, including the taste, texture and appropriateness of serving temperature.

They were also asked about the provider's food offering, cleanliness and how much support was offered in terms of patient's privacy and dignity.

Another key factor addressed in the assessment was the suitability of food for a patient with specific needs.

Patients at the Reading site responded positively when polled about the food they had been served.

Chief Nursing Officer Eamonn Sullivan said the Trust is proud of its 70-strong catering team.

He said: "The whole Trust is incredibly proud of our Catering Team. We know that good food and nutrition are essential to help patients recover while they are staying with us.

"As well as supporting our immune systems, and healing, food also plays an important role in the mental health aspect of being in hospital too as it brings with it routine and social interactions.”

The site has also been endorsed by famous chef and TV personality Dame Mary Berry- who has previously spoken of her enjoyment of the food she was served when she was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital after falling over in the garden of her Henley home.

Dame Mary Berry praised the quality of food at the Royal Berkshire Hospital Credit: PA images

Speaking of the food she received, she said: "You hear about hospital food being awful, but we had a menu every day - several choices - and I particularly remember the meatballs with mustard sauce.

"And what was so clever was that you could choose the size of your portion. If you're feeling pretty groggy and sorry for yourself you just want a little.

"And there was always fresh fruit and a choice of sandwich."

However, for those ranking on the lower end of the scale, the survey has come as a disappointment.

A spokesperson for Mid Cheshire Hospitals Foundation Trust told the Health Service Journal: "We are both sorry and disappointed that we did not meet our patients' expectations at the time of the assessment." 

The trust said it had taken "immediate action" to address shortcomings with food provision, including working more closely with its dieticians.

Food being served at NHS hospital

NHS England best hospital meal providers:

1. Bupa Group - 100%

2. The Christie NHS Foundation Trust - 99.03%

3. Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust - 98.62%

4. Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust - 98.32%

5. North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust - 98.25%

6. Torbay and South Devon Health Care NHS Foundation Trust - 98.08%

7. Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - 98.08%

8. John Taylor Hospice Community Interest Company - 98.03%

9. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust - 97.87%

10. University Hospitals of MorecambevBay NHS Foundation Trust - 97.8%

NHS worst hospital meal providers

1. Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust - 71.67%

2. The Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 73.53%

3. York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 73.85%

4. West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust - 74.56%

5. Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - 77.87%

6. Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 79.87

7. Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust - 90.45%

8. East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust - 80.84%

9. Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust - 81%

10. Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - 97.42%

Hospital food can vary greatly depending on the hospital trust according to the latest NHS England survey

The NHS is one of the largest providers of food and drink services in the country, offering 199 million meals per year for patients, staff and visitors.

Last year, NHS England published new legally binding national standards for hospital food.

Among the requirements, hospital trusts must work with high-quality chefs and nutrition experts, as well as make hot food available to patients at any time of the day or night.

The standards are designed to ensure that food is prioritised and treated as an integral part of patient care and services for staff.

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