A FAST food chain's outlet at a hospital is set to close, with health chiefs choosing not to renew its controversial lease.

For almost 20 years Burger King has had an outlet at Southampton General Hospital, which has prompted criticism from health organisations and even Parliament.

But now the Daily Echo can exclusively reveal that the franchise deal will not be extended past 2016 when the current lease expires.

Hospital chiefs say that the fast food outlet no longer fits with the “healthcare environment” it is trying to create at its main reception area at the Tremona Road site.

Transform Plans to axe the chain come as hospital trust bosses revealed a wider project to transform the reception and waiting areas, with work starting next year.

A spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said: “The trust is currently in the process of redeveloping its main entrance retail area to ensure it is more reflective of the healthcare environment in which it is situated.

“The Burger King franchise currently occupies a retail space that is leased until 2016, but there are no plans to extend the contract beyond that point.”

The move to drop Burger King has been welcomed by health groups.

Daily Echo:

Harry Dymond, from the Healthwatch group, which represents patients’ views in Southampton, said: “I think it is appropriate that the units should reflect the setting and offer choices that are better suited to patients in hospital.

“We would support the hospital reconsidering the outlets that will be in the new-look entrance.

“I think there should still be a place for relatives to be able to have food and drink but it would be better to have one that offers healthier options.”

MP Rob Flello, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on obesity, said: “I think fast food outlets like Burger King have their place, but being in a hospital, to my mind, is not an appro priate place.

“This is welcome news and I hope other hospitals take the time to review the outlets that they have.”

Daily Echo:

A spokeswoman for Burger King said that the company did not want to comment.

However, she explained that Burger King would not be directly involved with agreements concerning franchises which are negotiated by the franchisee.