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Celeb chef James Martin to overhaul NHS hospital food

James Martin, a well-known celebrity chef and TV personality has pledged to work with the UKs National Health Service (NHS) to overhaul hospital food. ...

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|Dec 16|magazine8 min read

James Martin, a well-known celebrity chef and TV personality has pledged to work with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to overhaul hospital food.

During 2012 he is planning to work alongside six NHS Trusts across the UK, inspired by the results he achieved when he revamped the menus at Scarborough General Hospital in North Yorkshire, England.

Martin discussed his plans to work with the NHS again while he attended an event at Clarence House.

Hosted by the Prince of Wales, the reception was designed to raise awareness of a campaign which is being run by the Soil Association aimed at improving the quality of the hospital food that is currently available to patients.

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The chef said: “It's going back to the old roots of food as medicine. It's so important in terms of nutrition and vitamins.

“One of the members of my family is in hospital and it's important she likes the food,” he added. “If the soup is like dishwater she's not going to get any better.”

Also present at the Prince of Wales’ Clarence House event were executives and senior management figures from 14 NHS hospitals which have already taken steps to offer a better quality of food.

As a result, their menus now feature locally sourced, fresh ingredients.

During the 12 weeks James Martin spent in the kitchens of the Scarborough General Hospital he said encouraging the catering staff to use fresh ingredients was his biggest challenge.

 According to the celebrity chef, frozen dishes and instant packet foods dominated the hospital’s menu.

“Some of the staff had been there 27 years, we needed to make them fall in love with food again and get away from packets and frozen omelettes so I took them to a farm,” he said.  

“It's easy to throw mud at the NHS but 98 percent of my work was trying to win people over and two percent was changing the food.”

His efforts were the focus of a BBC 1 television programme and transformed the hospital’s food.

The Chief Executive of Scarborough General, Mike Proctor, was thrilled with the results. He said: “If we'd tried to do this ourselves it would have taken a long time.

“The quality of the food - locally produced, locally sourced - is far superior now and the catering staff are more fulfilled in what they are now cooking and we've had fantastic feedback from patients and staff.”

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