Campaigners are calling for legal food standards governing hospital food.

Supporters of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food want the government to enforce strict standards on meals served in hospitals in the same way that food in schools and prisons is policed. The call follows the publication of the campaign group’s Taking the Pulse of Hospital Food report, which shows half of hospitals in London are failing to meet basic food standards, and nearly two thirds are failing to cook fresh food for their patients.

Prue Leith, new Bake Off presenter and hospital food champion, who wrote the foreword to the research report, said: “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.”

The responsibility for hospital food standards officially passed from the Department of Health (DH) to NHS Improvement (NHSI) in February. The Campaign for Better Hospital Food is concerned that this move means the government could slam on the brakes in the process of improving and driving up food standards.

Phil Shelley, immediate past chair of the HCA, said: “Although this report highlights some positive examples, it appears to give a narrow view of what services should be like and does not fully consider the constraints hospital caterers have to work under. “The recommendations in the report – to cook fresh and on site and the pledge to bring that into law, bears no relevance to the financial constraints or actual infrastructure in place within hospitals. It also does not consider the strong government-led programme of private finance initiative (PFI) hospitals.”