Prince Charles: good food in hospitals should be a priority

Prince Charles said ‘food is a medicine in itself’ and called for greater emphasis on good quality hospital meals

By Alice Philipson

7:06AM GMT 31 Jan 2014

Prince Charles wants the NHS to see “food as a medicine in itself”, claiming better hospital meals would speed up recovery times.

He called for the quality of food served by the NHS to be made a “clinical priority” and said long-overdue changes could have benefits in other areas of health care such as malnutrition among the elderly.

It comes less than a month after the Telegraph disclosed that more than one in three hospital trusts have cut spending on patients’ meals in the past year.

Some hospitals are now spending as little as 69p on each meal, according to Department of Health figures, with meals at one trust described as “worse than prison”.

During an event at Clarence House organised by Prince Charles and the Department of Health, the prince said that what patients eat “will feed enormously into improving not only people’s health but also reducing the levels of malnutrition amongst the elderly”.

He highlighted the recently introduced Hospital Food Exemplar CQUIN (Commissioning for Quality and Innovation), which allows commissioners to reward hospital trusts for delivering high quality food.

In a speech Charles said it was important to “see food as a medicine in itself”, according to the Daily Mail.

He added: “You can imagine just how delighted I was that last month NHS England launched an initiative CQUIN, which for the first time actually encouraged commissioners to make hospital food a clinical priority.”

He described Mike Duckett, former catering manager at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, as an “inspiration”.

Mr Duckett reopened a number of shutdown hospital kitchens and set them up with an organic chef and links to local farmers in Kent who were able to supply them with fresh seasonal produce.

Charles said this kind of enterprise created a “virtuous circle” of sustainability, helping the local economy and ensuring better patient health