Health Secretary orders 'root and branch' NHS review after listeria deaths
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has ordered a “root and branch” review of NHS food after two more patient deaths were linked to a listeria outbreak.
The move comes after Public Health England confirmed the total number of deaths related to pre-packed sandwiches and salads available in hospitals had risen from three to five.
“I have been incredibly concerned by this issue and strongly believe that we need a radical new approach to the food that is served in our NHS,” Mr Hancock said.
“Staff, patients and families deserve so much better – our NHS should be at the forefront of supporting people to make healthy choices.
“I have instructed the NHS to conduct a root and branch review of hospital food.”
The affected foods were linked by one supplier - The Good Food Chain - and have been withdrawn and taken out of production. The company supplied 43 NHS trusts across the UK with meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats, which has reportedly produced a positive test result for the outbreak strain of listeria.
PHE said it is investigating the outbreak in partnership with the Food Standards Agency. It said seven NHS trusts across the country are dealing with listeria cases.
Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “Patients and NHS staff will expect reassurance and ministers must outline what checking procedures on batches are in place now and for the future.
“High quality nutritious food is integral to care. It’s time for a review of hospital food and the adoption of minimum standards.”
Mr Hancock announced yesterday he was pulling out of the Conservative leadership race, conceding he "can’t win" after securing the support of 20 Tory MPs in the first leadership ballot on Thursday.