A HAMPSHIRE hospital provides some of the worst NHS meals in the country, a damning report has revealed.

The Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester has been warned to improve the quality of meals served to patients after major failings were found by a Department for Health survey.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed that hospitals will face fines in future if they fail to serve decent meals.

But health campaigners in Hampshire are urging NHS bosses to take immediate action.

Each hospital was given a score out of 100 for the quality and choice of food dished up on the wards between March and June this year.

The quality of meals served at the Royal Hampshire earned it a score of just 65.76, putting it 1,242nd out of the 1,257 hospitals included in the study.

Last night Steve Taylor, manager of Healthwatch Hampshire, said: “The hospital needs to take this very seriously.

“The quality of food is a really important part of people’s care. Staff should listen to what patients say and act on the feedback.”

Mary Edwards, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the site, said patients had praised the food prepared by the hospital’s award-winning chefs.

But she added: “We have identified a number of areas to improve further and will look into any other specific issues patients have raised.

“We are really grateful to the volunteers who did the survey and although the results are disappointing we know where we need to improve.”

High achievers include Lymington Hospital and the Royal South Hants Hospital, which both received the top mark of 100 for the quality of their food.

Southampton General Hospital scored better than the Winchester hospital, with a mark of 93.43, but is still 729th in the league table.

Harry Dymond, chairman of Healthwatch Southampton, said he was disappointed with the hospital’s rating.

He said: “The hospital does ensure that fresh water is always available and the very varied menu includes fish every day.

“But one of the things it needs to do is provide greater choice for older patients.”

It is not the first time that quality of hospital food in Hampshire hospitals has come under fire.

Last year meals served on the wards were described as among the worst in the UK following a survey carried out by the Care Quality Commission.

In 2010, following a flood of complaints received by the Daily Echo, Southampton Itchen MP John Denham tucked into three hospital meals himself.

‘Perfectly fine’ He gave them a rating of seven out of ten, describing the food as “perfectly fine”, in contrast to patients who slammed the food as being “disgusting” and “unpalatable”.

Mr Hunt’s vow to fine hospitals is one of several measures unveiled by the Government in a bid to tackle the issue.

But the Campaign for Better Hospital Food described the plans as “woefully inadequate”, |warning that they would be hard to enforce.

No one from Southampton General Hospital was available for comment.