Celebrity chefs are to beef up the hospital menu, but two-Mars-Bars-a-day man Mark Gould has his doubts

The important point is to see food as part of treatment, ' said an eminent nutritionist recently, echoing Florence Nightingale's dictum about three square meals and a clean bed being the best medicine.

Forget it. That's dullsville.You must now see NHS food as the latest celebrity cult-driven New Labour rock and roll. Hence the news that the Boston vowel strangler, aka Loyd 'Masterchef ' Grossman, and a team of five-star chefs du jour are to take hospital food by the neck end and give it a full-throttle whizz through the rebranding Magimix.

In best New Labour style it was announced that Loyd and£40m of already allocated cash will turn the giant overcooked cabbage that is NHS catering into pert al dente pak choi that will have us all fighting to book a hospital bed.

Launching the clambake with an 8.30am photocall at St Thomas' Hospital, timed for the lunchtime news, Mr Grosman said, without a trace of sarcasm: 'I haven't gone for a group of celebrity chefs to be parachuted in for a cosmetic exercise. All the chefs I have put in this team have experience of mass catering.'

The celebrities are: Anton Edelmann from the Savoy Hotel; Mark Hix from the Ivy and Le Caprice; Shaun Hill, a restaurateur from Ludlow; Michael Caines, chef at the Gidleigh Park restaurant in Chagford, Devon; John Benson-Smith, head chef at Hazlewood Castle, north Yorkshire; and Eugene McCoy from McCoy's Restaurant at Cleveland Tontine.

Blowing the froth off the top of this thrice-spun concoction, what is really happening is more prosaic and practical. Eugene McCoy has visited the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and pronounced himself satisfied. Anton Edelmann visited an unnamed London hospital to say it was 'absolute rubbish'.

But Mr Grossman and co will not be up all hours arguing the toss about sourcing estate-bottled extra-virgin olive oil for the NHS menu. That is being done by the slightly less colour supplement-friendly NHS Estates.

It has commissioned a consultancy company to work with hospitals and the catering industry to devise an NHS menu framework setting minimum nutritional standards for every hospital.

Pam Millar, national chair of the Hospital Caterers Association, says that teams of NHS caterers and nutritionists have been given the job of creating NHS breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

She explains that Mr Grossman is not a chef and describes himself as more of a facilitator. 'It wasn't thought that the chefs would be creating the NHS menu because there never will be just one menu - every trust will have its own - so that was not feasible.

'They will be working with NHS chefs and caterers to develop some recipes which will carry their names - in the same way as Jamie Oliver has done for Sainsbury's.'

Same food. Different names. It's a brand thing.