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How good is our hospital food?
6:00am Wednesday 23rd October 2013 in News
WE are always told how important it is to have a healthy and balanced diet and this is all the more important when people are often at their lowest while staying in hospital.
Whether it’s in newspapers, magazines or on television, we can’t escape the message of making sure we get our five-a-day and everything in moderation - so why should it be any different just because you are in a hospital bed as opposed to the comfort of your own home?
When hospital patients are vulnerable and potentially very ill we want to know the food they are getting is nutricious and helping them on the road to recovery.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre recently compiled a list of how much each hospital trust in the country pays for patient’s meals and revealed the hospital, in Nethermayne, spends just £5.02 per person, per day on their food.
However the hospital disputed that figure. A spokeswoman told the Echo it spends around £7.15 per person and the hospital follows strict guidelines from the British Dietic Association. She also said they were not approached by the centre for its statistics on meals expenditure.
But as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating so I went along to the hospital to sample a selection of patient meals.
I was welcomed in to the canteen by service manager, Mark Talbot.
He said: “We feed about 700 patients per day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Meals arrive on site pre-plated and are steam cooked in ovens on the wards.”
Mr Talbot explained the meals arrive part cooked on a plastic platter and staff scan a barcode of the lid before placing them in to a microwave-style oven where they are cooked for between three and five minutes.
The first meal served up to me is salmon with sliced potatoes.
The portion size was generous and the salmon tasted fresh, however the cheese sauce on the potatoes had dried out in the oven.
Mr Talbot said for each meal patients receive a main course from the menu, with a choice of dessert, fruit juice and tea or coffee.
He said: “We try not prescribe what people eat because an elderly person who is very poorly will eat much less than a young man who has come in with a broken leg.
“There are also sandwiches available which are made in house and fruit so people can get their five a day.
“Our most popular meal is shepherd’s pie.”
The hospital also ensures there is food available to meet a various number of specific dietry requirements, such as halal and vegetarian.
After the salmon I was given a cheesy omelette with dauphinoise potatoes and spinach.
Unfortunately the omelette tasted quite dry and was not very fresh, however the potatoes on this plate were extremely tasty.
After this I was given chicken pasta with mushrooms, chicken tikka massala and rice, lasagne and an all-day breakfast.
All three were of average quality and similar to the types of ready-meal you might pick up in a supermarket.
However on the whole they were edible and the portion sizes were generous.
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