HEALTH secretary Matt Hancock warned of ‘severe consequences’ if there is evidence of wrongdoing after a listeria outbreak in hospitals is thought to have killed five people.
Mr Hancock yesterday told the Commons the NHS had identified nine cases in seven hospitals between April 14 and May 28 ‘all linked to contaminated sandwiches from a single supplier’. ‘All the cases involved inpatients and, very sadly, five people have died,’ he added.
Pledging a full inquiry, he expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims and promised a full review of food sold and served in hospitals.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said hospital catering staff had raised concerns about finances.
He said figures showed some spend less than £3 per patient per day, leading to greater outsourcing of catering, with sandwiches and soups steadily replacing hot meals.
He asked: ‘Do you agree this review should be backed up by investment in hospital catering, in facilities, and legally-backed clear minimum quality standards for hospital food?’
Mr Hancock replied: ‘It is important to have the best quality food in hospitals. I am completely open to upgrading hospital equipment if that is what is necessary and if it provides value for money.’