Patients snub hospital cuisine

It has been said hospital food is enough to make you sick and according to recent regional surveys many would tend to agree. A report last year showing results of a patient survey concluded that many hospital meals were so unappetising that many patients left their food or got visitors to bring in more.

It has been said hospital food is enough to make you sick and according to recent regional surveys many would tend to agree.

A report last year showing results of a patient survey concluded that many hospital meals were so unappetising that many patients left their food or got visitors to bring in more.

To buck the trend one Norfolk hospital has decided to go all a la carte on its patients and is trialling 'top restaurant-style meals'.

But patients are not having any of it.

Not one patient staying at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn has so far taken up the offer of restaurant quality food and are sticking with their standard issue grub.

They say they do not expect to pay for hospital food and yesterday catering staff said no research was done into the cuisine idea before it was launched on Monday in the maternity ward.

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Charlotte Greenhalgh, 29, a teacher who lives at Marham and has just had a baby girl, Amelia, said: “It is not an option. I do not think you should have to pay for food when you come in to hospital. It is the NHS.

“And I do not think there is anything wrong with the food they supply anyway, it is mass produced so you do not expect the best food. But I had a vegetable chilli yesterday and it was very nice.

“It also creates a two tiered system which I think is wrong. I think it is about saving money at the end of the day.”

The £10.50 three course Hospitality Menu offers a range of five starters, eight main meals, including four vegetarian options, and five desserts.

A three course meal could include chicken liver Provence pate served with delicate salad leaves and Melba toast, grilled 8oz steak with button mushrooms, onion rings and grilled tomatoes and sherry trifle.

For £8.95 patients can have just two courses.

The standard menu, provided with a budget of £2.50 per meal, yesterday was a choice of roast chicken, baked cod in parsley sauce, bean goulash or cheese salad finished off by bakewell tart, custard, rice pudding or vanilla ice-cream.

All of course complimentary as part of their hospital stay.

A spokesman for the hospital said both menus are cooked by the same in-house catering staff and everything is cooked fresh on site.

Allyn Witham, production and quality manager for catering at the QEH, said: “It is an idea of the turnaround team to gain a small profit for the trust.

“And it gives our patients an opportunity to choose a special meal as a change from the general menu, perhaps if they want to make an occasion of it.”

He said as far as he was aware there had been no research into whether patients would like an additional food service at the hospital.

He did think trialling it on the maternity ward was possibly a mistake and that parents of children in hospital might like it as a choice.

Karen Leech, spokeswoman for the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, said patient forums involved in a survey about hospital food last year would have questioned offering £10 meals to mothers at a time of great expense to a family.

“Additionally new mothers are often very tired, possibly experiencing degrees of stress and discomfort and therefore I wonder if the Hospital have considered that they are addressing this menu to the right target audience?” she said.

The patients hospitality menu is be trialled over the coming weeks on the Castleacre obstetrics, gynaecology and maternity ward.

If it is a success it will be extended to other hospital wards later.

The hospital catering department produces about 450 to 500 meals in 45 minutes for its patients each day as well as outside catering for events and even weddings.

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