Celebrity chef Prue Leith, CBE has praised the efforts of the Catering team at Oswestry’s specialist orthopaedic hospital, who have been supporting an independent review of hospital food.

The aim of the review, which Prue was the advisor for – working alongside food and health professionals – is to ensure patients and staff from across the NHS benefit from tastier, healthier and better-quality meals.

Members of the Catering team at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) formed part of an exemplar group of NHS Caterers, Dietitians and Nurses, who have worked and helped to lead on implementing the review’s recommendations for tastier, more nutritious food for patients and staff.

The Catering team at RJAH are no strangers to glowing plaudits, having been highlighted in the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Adult Inpatient Survey for producing and serving the best food in the country for the 14th year out of 15, back in 2020.

The Oswestry-based hospital also consistently records strong results as part of the annual Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE) survey, which considers food and service quality.

To recognise the team’s hard work and high standards, Prue has recorded a special video message for them, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UKD6V0hgWE

In the video, she says: “I’m Prue Leith, mostly known as a cook. But I was also the advisor to the recent Hospital Food Review for the government, and that review made recommendations about improving hospital food for patients and for staff. We made eight recommendations, and I’m happy to say that the Government has accepted all eight and has put the money behind implementing them.

“Of course some hospitals already do a magnificent job on catering and one such is The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, and I really have to congratulate them because for 14 out of the last 15 years, they have come top in patient surveys for good catering and good food generally.

“They will help other hospitals and there are a few of these exemplar hospitals, who have committed themselves to helping other hospitals, that are struggling with it. If you want to know how they managed to meet all the recommendations and how they plan to even improve on that, then they are included within this link. I would advise you to do it, it’s well worth a read.”

Sian Langford, Facilities Compliance Manager at RJAH, said: “We were absolutely delighted to be asked to support this crucial review of hospital food and would like to thank Prue for her kind words and recognition of this.

“Nutritious, high-quality but also tasty food is essential for not just our patients but also our staff, who are caring for our patients, and our Catering team work extremely hard to ensure that is what they get.”

Laura Peill, Managing Director of Support Services at RJAH, added: “A huge well done to our fantastic Catering team for their consistent hard work.

“This recognition is richly deserved and a true testament to the efforts and care they put into ensuring our patients and staff are served the very best food at an NHS hospital. I am very proud of the team here and I know they’re thrilled with this amazing recognition from none other than Prue Leith herself.”

More information, including the eight recommendations being taken forward, are available to view here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-blueprint-for-better-hospital-food


You can read what the team at RJAH have been doing, specifically related to the eight recommendations, here:

  • Relating to Catering staff support – the Trust has a staff training programme in place meaning continual professional development for the team. They are also encouraged to undertake NVQs – the hospital works with a local college to support staff to undertake further training in line with their own interests (nutrition, hospitality, allergens).
  • With regard to nutrition and hydration – the Catering team works closely with the Trust Dietician, who reviews and approves every menu, often working with the Catering Manager to support patients with complex needs to ensure every patient gets the special ‘RJAH’ experience.  The Catering team also works closely with clinical teams to identify patients with specific dietary, religious or ethical needs at Pre-op, before they are an inpatient – so patients come to site knowing their individual needs are going to be catered for.
  • Food safety – The team maintain a 5 star food hygiene rating, working collaboratively with a local Environmental Health Officer, who is always on hand to offer advice and support.  Food Safety Training is also mandatory for all staff involved in food service – including clinical ward based staff.  We also have in place a nominated food safety specialist and board member responsible for food service – demonstrating our commitment to ensuring standards are not just met, but exceeded.
  • In terms of Facilities – the Trust actively invests in upgrading on site kitchens – recently upgrading its walk-in fridge and freezer. Catering at RJAH is not thought of as ‘stand-alone’ – the team prides themselves on thinking holistically – it’s not just about what the patient is eating but also the environment they are eating in, for example the cleanliness and service.
  • Technology is crucial in food production. By 2022, every hospital should implement a digital meal ordering system collate food choices, manage allergies and diets, and minimise waste. The team at RJAH are now looking to implement this.
  • In relation to enforcing standards – RJAH maintains its own Food and Hydration strategy – setting standards and measuring itself against them regularly – and the hospital’s CQC Inpatient Survey results speak for themselves – named best in the country for 14 out of the last 15 years.
  • Sustainability and waste is an ongoing challenge all hospital kitchens have to consider.  A great example of cutting waste at RJAH, is that the team operates a ‘plated’ meal system – freshly cooked in the kitchen each day and serviced down their belt into ward trolleys, which significantly reduces waste at ward level.
  • Going forward – The team are extremely excited to be working in collaboration with the other members of the Exemplar Trust Group. They recognise everyone isn’t doing everything perfectly, but together this group offers expertise across all fields.

Pictured The RJAH Catering team.


Pictured: Celebrity chef Prue Leith, CBE.