Dozens of NHS hospitals are failing to achieve top food hygiene ratings.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which regularly inspects hospitals and other food suppliers, rates food hygiene out of five. An NHS review said all hospitals should aim to achieve this score.
However, since 2022, 35 hospitals have been rated below five stars.
This includes Colchester Hospital in Essex and William Harvey Hospital in Kent, which received just two stars, meaning “some improvement” is needed.
Six other venues received three stars, indicating their hygiene standards are “generally satisfactory”.
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He HSJwhich published the data, said Colchester Hospital’s two-star rating last year was based on problems with cleaning standards and hygienic food handling.
East Suffolk and North East Essex Foundation Trust, which manages the site, told the news site they immediately put measures in place to address the issues.
William Harvey Hospital received its score in October. East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust said it had since implemented new cleaning measures.
Other sites rated below five stars reported that they had improved their services since their inspection or were in the process of doing so, such as additional training.
Hospitals awarded three stars include Warrington Hospital, St Albans City Hospital and St Martins Hospital in Kent.
Some smaller sites, such as individual hospital wards or units, have recorded even lower scores, the data shows.
A service run by facilities management company Mitie at Whipps Cross Hospital’s Woodbury Unit has been awarded zero stars, indicating urgent improvement is needed.
North East London Foundation Trust told the HSJ it immediately closed the area while it resolves the issues.
A review of NHS hospital food in 2020, led by Bake Off judge Prue Leith, states that all hospitals should “aim to achieve five stars” in food hygiene and maintain a minimum of four stars.
The Cambridgeshire hospital also offered a dish of broccoli and cauliflower in cheese sauce for dinner on another occasion. “I have had numerous stays over the last few years and the food is terrible,” the patient told MailOnline. “The amount of food on the menu that is regularly unavailable is ridiculous”
Another patient was served a rotten roast potato while being treated for appendicitis at a North Yorkshire hospital in December 2020. Sally Teston said the potato “was black inside”. Staff couldn’t replace it “until everyone else was taken care of and I had to wait for what was left,” she added. While Covid restrictions remained in place during her hospital stay, “I had to ask my mother to bring food to the hospital doors and I would go out to receive it because I wasn’t allowed visitors,” she said.
According to FSA figures, around 190 acute care facilities and hundreds of community or mental health centers achieved a five-star rating.
The FSA food hygiene rating system ranks food suppliers from zero to five. The score is displayed on-site and online to help people make informed decisions.
The agency notes that your rating is just a snapshot of food standards at the time of your visit and that businesses must follow food hygiene standards at all times.
Food hygiene scores are not a marker of food quality, customer service or presentation in restaurants, takeaways, schools or hospitals, it adds.
Britons have separately complained about the quality of NHS food for years.
Many have shared photos of the “unappetizing” and “inedible” meals they have been served in hospital, including a plate of broccoli and cauliflower with cheese for dinner and a rotten roast potato.
In November 2022, NHS England launched national standards for hospital feeding, which are legally binding.
Among the eight standards is a requirement for trusts to offer hot food 24/7 and allow patients to choose their dinner from bed.
It is also necessary to offer more vegetable and fish dishes.
It arose from Dame Prue’s plan to improve hospital nutrition, which called for on the NHS to prepare healthier, better quality meals.
He also said all hospitals should have digital meal ordering by 2022, serve meals on china and “go green” to reduce the 14 millionkg of meals wasted by the NHS each year.
The review was commissioned by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in August 2019 after six patients died from listeria they contracted from eating sandwiches and salads in hospital.