By Kelly Wickham
Staff at the city’s hospital showed the health secretary and a TV chef their recipe for success in their new kitchen.
Matt Hancock MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care was joined by Great British Bake Off judge, Prue Leith, to officially open the improved facilities at St Richard’s Hospital.
Mr Hancock said: “The people of Chichester should be incredibly proud of the hospital that they have, it’s one of the best in the country.
“I’ve come here with Prue Leith to look at what good looks like when it comes to hospital food and we’ve opened the new kitchen, a £3m investment.
“What you can tell is that all of the staff care about getting the best possible care for patients, including the food.
“Food is so important to recovery, for nutrition, of course, but also morale. If you’re stuck in hospital, then one of the few things you look forward to is the food so I want to improve it right across the country.
“I’d love to see the quality provided here as the norm across the country.
“Very soon we’re going to come forward with proposals on how every hospital in the country can have the very best food they can.”
The visit was part of a drive to improve the reputation of hospital food all across the country and last year the hospital in Spitalfield Lane was under scrutiny when a patient died following an outbreak of listeria.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that the patient, was diagnosed with a listeria infection believed to have come from a pre-packed chicken sandwich provided by the Good Food Chain company.
At the visit yesterday lunchtime, Prue and Mr Hancock were joined by Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan, who is a former governor at the hospital.
She said: “It’s absolutely fabulous to have the secretary of state for health here, looking at the brilliant new kitchen that’s not been long opened.
“They’ve completely revolutionised food (which they provide) and, really, their patient first programme is constantly improving.
“One of the things they’d been getting complaints about was the food and they’ve taken on the challenge and got what’s probably the best kitchen in the whole of the NHS.
“I’ve just been round the kitchen and the patients and the range, the menu, everyone is absolutely delighted.
“It’s amazing what they’ve done but not surprising. That’s why they are outstanding because they’re continually improving and continually focusing on the patient first. ”
The patient menu consists of a range of snacks, main dishes and salads – as well as a variety of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soups, and desserts of course.
Mr Hancock also used his visit to thank the staff at the hospital for their hard work.
Marianne Griffiths, the trust’s chief executive, said: “Food is so important to our patients for many reasons.
“Many of you will know if you’ve been in a hospital for more than a day that your whole routine is calibrated around your breakfast, lunch and dinner time. Everything around that becomes really sacred.
“It’s about nutrition and variety and joy that you need to give through food, particularly when people aren’t well.
“I think the development of this incredible menu, which again has been very patient led and focused, has been incredible.”