Let them eat toast! (Says Prue Leith, adviser on NHS hospital food)

Laura Donnelly
Prue Leith has said millions of pounds is wasted on NHS food that ends up in the bin  - PA

Hungry patients are being denied toast at NHS hospitals because of fears over "health and safety," Prue Leith has warned. 

The Bake Off judge, who has been appointed to advise a review of hospital food, said four in ten trusts are refusing to serve toast, because staff worry they will “burn the hospital down” while making it.

The cookery writer said: "The biggest complaint about the NHS which is beloved by everyone is about the food, and the biggest complaint about the food is about the lack of toast.

"There is no toast or the toast is like pipe lagging or cold. This is so easy to fix.

"Forty per cent of hospitals don't give anybody toast at all as they think that if they make toast they will burn the hospital down because of health and safety, but that's just an excuse not to do it.

"Nobody has done that. We have never heard of a fire set off by a toaster. They have many more dangerous machines in hospitals than toasters.

"We need to change attitudes,” she told the Dorchester Literary Festival in Dorset.

Nurses at Barnet Hospital in north London previously told a patient who requested toast that they couldn't make it for her because it was a fire risk.

In  August, Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to tackle the matter, saying such changes could improve patients’ experience in hospital. 

He said: "We get too many complaints from patients about the quality of the food and I think it does affect their experience when they are in hospital.

"And sometimes it can be something as simple as not having hot toast, and having toast actually made on the wards, so one thing you want to deliver is hot buttered toast for the patients of this country."

Ms Leith is advising on a Department of Health review into the 140 million meals served annually in Britain's hospitals.

She said: "When they asked me if I'll lead this thing at first I said no, because I didn't think they would do it properly.

Previous attempts to overhaul hospital food had “been mostly about some minister getting their picture in the paper and announcing something popular with the public but then what money there was for it will disappear,” she said. 

"But Matt Hancock [the Health Secretary] has told me they mean it this time and they are hanging their hat on the reform of the NHS."