Reports Better Hospital Food

Taking the Pulse of Hospital Food: A survey of NHS hospitals, using London as a test case

This report shares the results of research into NHS hospital food standards across one geographical area, London. It is hoped that this test case can be used to understand more about hospital food nationwide. For this, the Campaign for Better Hospital Food collected data from 30 of the 39 acute hospitals in London.


“Hospital food has a deservedly poor reputation and NHS patients and staff deserve better. This report shows that at the moment most hospitals are not serving fresh, tasty and wholesome food so we must have legal standards, like those already in place for school food and prison food, to make sure good food is a priority in our hospitals.”

Prue Leith, Bake Off presenter and hospital food champion


Facts and infographics
Headline findings
The Campaign for Better Hospital Food policy asks
Introduction from the Campaign for Better Hospital Food
Maps section:

  1. Hospital Food Standards
  2. Food for hospital patients
  3. Patient food experience
  4. Food for children in hospital
  5. Food for hospital staff and visitors
  6. Staff food experience
  7. Hospital food environment
  8. Meeting NHS England CQUIN food targets
  9. NHS Trust food culture

Final words
Methodology notes

Headline findings

The Campaign for Better Hospital Food undertook a survey of food standards in NHS hospitals, using London as a test case. Thirty out of 39 of London’s acute hospitals responded. In addition we verified how many among the 39 had external awards and accreditations for their catering. Here are our key findings:

  • 50% of hospitals surveyed met all five hospital food standards required in the NHS Standard Contract for hospitals
  • 67% of hospitals reported that they have already met the health and wellbeing CQUIN food targets or were working towards meeting them by the March 2017 deadline
  • 24-hour access to healthy food for staff is the CQUIN target where most hospitals were lagging behind (only 40% had met this target by the time we closed the survey)
  • 60% of Trusts surveyed reported their NHS Trust had a food and drink strategy (a requirement in the NHS Standard Contracts), but only 25% covered all the required criteria
  • 75% of Trusts reported they had CEO buy-in to improve food standards
  • 30% of hospitals surveyed cooked fresh food for adult patients
  • 42% cooked fresh food for paediatrics patients
  • 77% of hospitals cooked fresh food for staff
  • 10% of hospitals had a Good Farm Animal Welfare Award for staff and visitor food
  • 21% of hospitals had signed up to the London Healthy Workplace Charter

Read the 'Taking the Pulse of Hospital Food' news release


Taking the Pulse of Hospital Food: A survey of NHS hospitals, using London as a test case
36pp - 2017 | 3132Kb


Published Thursday 23 March 2017

Better Hospital Food: The campaign represents a coalition of organisations calling on the Westminster government to introduce mandatory nutritional, environmental and ethical standards for food served to patients in NHS hospitals in England.

36pp - 2017


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