Hospital Food

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The Government has wasted more than £54m on “failed” schemes to improve hospital food, according to the food and farming pressure group Sustain.

Last December, my Mum spent a few days in a London Hospital. The care was excellent, the staff were friendly; but the food was largely inedible (an opinion also held by the nursing staff). The rest of the family kept her well supplied with homemade salad boxes, fruit and various sandwiches and other supplies from M&S. It’s difficult to reconcile the NHS’s employment of dieticians with the fact that the catering is so bad. Surely good food must improve recovery?

My local hospital, whose entrance is more like an airport departure lounge, has its own M&S Simply Food store so I suppose it would be possible to arrange to purchase food from there, if you could not personally get access the store (with stays in hospital getting shorter many patients must be insufficiently mobile to access hospital retail areas). But if many patients are living on food other than that provided by hospital catering, the cynic in me wonders if the Government is content with this arrangement, as it must be cheaper than improving the existing service.

I remember listening to BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme’s coverage of the BBC Food and Farming Awards 2012 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p0vfj. Mike Duckett received a ‘lifetime’ award for striving to improve hospital catering, and although now retired he said that he would continue his crusade for improvement wherever hospital catering is below standard (I recall his words had a lilt similar to the St Francis of Assisi prayer beginning: “Where there is discord may we bring harmony. Where there is ….”). I felt inspired, but immediately wondered why he had no experience of the catering at another London hospital (the one where my Mum stayed recently) a few miles away from the Royal Brompton.

“DEREK COOPER AWARD
“Mike Duckett. Former head of catering at the Royal Brompton hospital where every meal is cooked on the premises using fresh, local ingredients, and thirty per cent of the food is organic or locally sourced, with organic meats appearing on the menu at least once a week. Mike Duckett has been leading the way in improving the quality of public catering across the UK, and his work is followed by governments around Europe, The nomination said, “Mike’s work connects many small producers around the UK by supplying those who care about food and nutrition standards, and those staff, families and ill people who need to eat the food in hospitals.””

Maybe Mike Duckett should be appointed the Hospital Food Tsar?

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