Guidance on hospital food revealed
Some NHS hospitals are failing to provide patients with high quality and healthy meals, the Health Secretary has warned.
Jeremy Hunt said that while some organisations are delivering decent food and drink for patients, others are "falling short".
In a move to crack down on inadequate hospital catering, Mr Hunt has introduced a set of standards to ensure that patients receive nutritious and appetising food throughout their hospital stay.
The set of standards come after an inquest revealed that neglect by medical staff led to the death of a hospital patient who called 999 because he was so thirsty.
Kane Gorny, 22, from Balham, south London, died of dehydration at St George's Hospital, in Tooting, in May 2009.
The new standards state that: "All patients should have access to fresh drinking water at all times, unless it contradicts clinical advice."
Mr Hunt also said that food and drink should be available at all times of the day - not just meal times.
Patients should also have the choice from a varied menu - including meals suitable for religious needs, he said.
Catering staff should also reduce the fat and salt content in food and introduce more fruit and vegetables.
Hospitals will be inspected to ensure that they are adhering to the guidance. Teams of inspectors, half of whom will be patients, will examine the taste, quality and temperature of food as well as the cleanliness of ward kitchens.