"Rotherham District General Hospital - Food"

About: Rotherham Hospital

(as a friend),

Let’s start with the good things -

The jelly was nice, so was the ice cream and yoghurt and the cheese and biscuits and the bacon were good too and the……er……er……er!!

Yes, well, not much else was. If you start with the menu, so much of it has a stew base. Casseroles and mince abound and no matter what it is called it all tastes the same. Cold food which should be hot; soggy and tough food that should be crisp.Chips that feel as though they have been warmed up. Fish that looks grey, watery and tastes awful and tasteless fish cakes; cottage pie, cottage pie and more cottage pie; limp salad and hard boiled eggs so rubbery you could swear they would bounce. Sauces (if any) are congealed, condiments and dressings are almost none existent.

“ We don’t get any complaints” said the catering manager when complained to!!. In fact patients do complain but not always to someone who can do something about it. I can think of several reasons why people may not complain. Firstly the average stay of a patient in hospital nowadays is quite short and it hardly seems worthwhile complaining if you don’t have to put up with it for long. Many people are so much out of their comfort zone anyway that poor food is just one more burden to bear. Some may actually think the food is acceptable because their own poor diet has contributed to them being in hospital in the first place. But for the people who do eat well at home it may be that they don’t want to complain when the nurses and doctors are doing all they can to get them better.

It is such a shame that the catering service isn’t doing more to help them. If you don’t feel well, poorly presented food that looks and tastes unappetising doesn’t get eaten. If a small portion is requested it is more likely to be eaten if it is a small portion. I observed 9 potatoes on a plate when a small portion had been asked for. With a good and healthy appetite I would not have eaten more than half of those. For a very elderly lady with an appetite that needed a lot of encouragement it was completely off putting and she ate none of her dinner. Nutrition levels fall and health does not return easily, especially for those patients who need to stay in hospital for any length of time.

A patient may fill in a menu request each day but there is no guarantee they will get what they have asked for. An example – sweet and sour requested from the menu produced a plate of chips on one occasion with a note to say the menu had been changed after it had gone out to patients. Often the staff are forced to say ‘ we haven’t got that’ and woe betide if a patient moves to a different ward.

Special diets – What special diets? – very little seems to be arranged to accommodate these and I think specifically of gluten free and diabetic diets. Indeed if the family does not supplement with appropriate food, patients can well go hungry.

You may ask, have you personally experienced these problems.

The answer is – no, but I have observed them. I must confess that I dread having to be admitted to Rotherham District General Hospital to experience them, but over the last 2 months I have regularly visited one long stay patient and one patient who has been admitted twice for shorter periods as well as speaking to other people who have been patients. All have had the same experience and some have actually complained to the catering service and to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service. Very little has changed. A meal enjoyed has been a very rare thing.

The cost of wasted food to the Health Service must be enormous

but the plea of ‘we only have £2.00 per patient’ is not a valid reason for unimaginative menus, poor cooking and inadequate organisation. Other hospitals in the region manage to produce very acceptable food, so why do the contractors at Rotherham District General Hospital manage so badly and fail so miserably to provide a good service.

Perhaps we should ask what the Trust will do about it. The health of patients is at risk.

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Response from Claire McInnes, PALS Co-ordinator, Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust

I am sorry to read of your concerns regarding the quality of the food served to patients at Rotherham General Hospital but would like to thank you for bringing your observations to our attention.

The Catering Manager has advised that should patients raise concerns relating to the food provided, members of the Catering Management team do attend the ward and speak with patients on request, in an attempt to address any concerns.

With regards to your comments regarding the quality of the food provided, I am sorry that in your experience, you have observed meals that have arrived cold, as food temperatures are boosted in the trolleys immediately prior to leaving the kitchen. A ward visit review also takes place on a quarterly basis to identify any problems with the meals provided.

I am sorry if you have witnessed patients not receiving the meal they have requested although it is difficult to comment on the reasons for this without patient specific details. I have however been advised that any changes made to the menu after it has been delivered to patients happens rarely if there are supplier problems. Where the kitchen is notified of a patient being transferred to another ward the menu should be transferred accordingly.

The standard menu offered to patients has a healthy eating code, which encompasses both low fat and low sugar dishes. The British Diabetic Association encourages healthy eating and that patients choose such meals rather than recommending a separate Diabetic menu. The ISS Mediclean Dieticians are also currently in the process of developing a gluten free menu.

Whilst the Catering department work very hard to provide nutritious, good quality food to every patient, everyone has different opinions on what this should be and it is a challenge to try and meet the expectations and cater for the needs of every single patient.

The observations you have made in your post however are extremely valuable to us and have been passed to the Catering Manager.

Thank you once again for taking the time to post on this website.

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