HOSPITAL catering staff will take part in a MasterChef-style competition to devise a range of menus in a bid to improve the standard of patient food.

It will be launched today by Health Secretary Alex Neil, who is calling on top chefs to become involved as judges in the NHS Good Food Challenge.

Candidates will be asked to use fresh, local and seasonal produce to create the meals. The dishes will be presented to judges in a series of regional heats starting in the summer, reaching a grand final in the autumn. Teams must be able to serve 50 samples of each dish, with the winning dishes served across all NHS hospitals.

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It comes after concern about the quality of food served on wards.

The Herald journalist Anne Johnstone collected the views of fellow patients while being treated at the Beatson Oncology Centre at Glasgow's Gartnavel Hospital last year.

The Beatson's patient food, which Ms Johnstone described as "execrable reconstituted stodge", comes pre-prepared. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed it will look at developing a dedicated menu for cancer patients.