"Waste of food"

About: Royal Alexandra Hospital / Gynaecology

(as the patient),

Ward 18, end of October 2014.

Food completely inedible. Patients gazing hopelessly at their plates and asking each other "What's it supposed to be? " then laying down their forks after two mouthfuls. Patients weren't offered menu choices and, as a vegetarian, I had a plate of mince and taties placed in front of me. I settled for mash, carrots and sprouts. Carrots and sprouts were a textbook example of how NOT to cook vegetables. Carrots - marble-sized balls of orange jelly. Sprouts - little sorry piles of soggy leaves. And how can you ruin mashed potato, for goodness sake? ?

Strangest thing - everything smelled and tasted the same - sort of black and old, as though everything had been cooked together for a very, very long time. Blindfolded, it would have been impossible from either taste or texture to tell whether you were eating macaroni cheese or apple crumble - and I can verify this because I tried both.

My request for fresh fruit was met with a startled offer to see if some could be found in the kitchen.

The waste of food was unbelievable. One visitor hesitated to come into the ward because she thought food was about to be served. In fact, the trolleys laden with full plates were the rejected food being taken away.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››

Responses

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Forbidden fruit,

Thank you for taking the time to get in touch with me with your comments about the food service at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and I am really sorry that the food was not up to standard during your stay in Ward 18.

NHSGGC is working very hard to ensure that the meals we provide are both nutritionally balanced and satisfying for our patients. Over the last few years we have undertaken a number of projects to improve the standard of catering across the Health Board, particularly in terms of the types of menus we provide and the ways in which patients are served their meals. However, we know that there are times when the standards we expect are not met. To address this, we have introduced new processes for meal times on wards where patients are given options if they do not like the food they have, if they want a smaller/ lighter meal or if they want snacks out with mealtimes. We have also increased training for staff in the presentation of meals and ensure that support is available to patients who need extra help to eat or drink.

It is important that we continually monitor the catering service we provide so that we can continue to make improvements – this is why it is important to get feedback from our patients, both good and bad, as you have done. We undertake regular surveys with our patients and have an audit process in place to check on standards. We also work closely with our patient and carer group who have been involved in menu tasting and have just started a pilot to take part in the audits mentioned, to ensure that there is always a patient/ carer perspective.

I would like to thank you again for providing your feedback, which I will pass on to the Catering Manager at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. While I have given you just a flavour of the improvements that are being put in place, I hope the information above provides you with some reassurance that we are working hard to improve mealtimes for all of our patients. If you would like any more specific information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at lorna.gray@ggc.scot.nhs.uk.

With Best Wishes,

Lorna

  • Forbidden fruit thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} of {{totalOthers()}} other people think so too

Update posted by Forbidden fruit (the patient)

Dear Lorna,

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

However, I have to say that your reply has all the hallmarks of "The Standard Response", full of anodyne jargon such as: "working very hard"; "introduced new processes"; "continually monitor"; "regular surveys"; ""audit process" ... etc. etc. etc.

So I'm afraid that you haven't engaged with my point, which is that the food was inedible. Not just, as you say, "not up to standard" but, literally, INEDIBLE.

It's no good giving "increased training for staff in the presentation of meals", nor improving "the ways in which patients are served their meals", nor giving patients "options if they do not like the food the have" if the basic problem is seriously disgusting food!!

My GP asked me whether my husband had come to stay in Paisley to be with me while I was in RAH. I replied that no, he hadn't because there was nothing he could do. "Well," said my GP, "he could have brought you food".

And that was exactly what was happening. Visitors brought in all manner of food for patients.

Mobile patients in my ward walked the length of the long, long corridor to the WVS cafe and shop in the reception area to bring back sandwiches, scones, fruit, cups of tea for themselves and their less mobile neighbours.

Two years ago £10m was spent on two "superkitchens" at IRH and RAH, allegedly to provide "fresh, nutritious, healthy food, moving away from the traditional negative perception of hospital grub".

http://news.stv.tv/west-central/111218-two-10m-superkitchens-to-provide-food-to-patients-in-36-hospitals/

What happened?

If fresh carrots really go into the system, how is it that they come out the other end as startlingly uniform bright orange balls of squidge?

One of those "superkitchens" is actually located in RAH, so the food doesn't have to travel anywhere and there's obviously no excuse.

What's the food like in the other 35 hospitals served by the "superkitchens"?? (Yes, I would like an answer to that question!)

Before I was transferred to RAH I spent some time in Oban hospital where the food was absolutely excellent. A friend who has recently been in the A&B hospital in Lochgilphead praised the food there to the skies.

Neither Oban nor Lochgilphead is served by the "superkitchens". They prepare their food on site.

I hear that the "superkitchen" cook-freeze-cook method may be extended to other hospitals throughout the regions. Don't do it!!

Yes, Lorna, I would like more specific information.

I'd like a personal walk through of the RAH "superkitchen" please, to see what happens to the food from the moment it comes in to the moment it goes out.

And I'd like to ask Rhoda Grant to accompany me.

Regards, F. Fruit.

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Forbidden fruit,

Thank you for taking the time to come back to me. First of all, I would like to assure you that I put a lot of time and attention into trying to make every response as individual and helpful as possible. I am genuinely sorry that this did not come across in my last response and I will take on board the feedback you have given me about this.

As I said, I had passed on your comments to our staff responsible for catering at this site, and have also passed on your most recent comments. William Hunter, General Manager for Facilities at the Royal Alexandra Hospital has asked me to pass on the following on his behalf:

"Dear Forbidden fruit,

Can I please take this opportunity to invite you into Royal Alexandra Hospital to discuss the issues that you have raised in connection with the patient meal service. From the correspondence that you have exchanged I am hopeful that you will be willing to agree to this.

At this meeting it would be my intention to explore, in more detail, your personal experience of the catering service. The meeting will be convened by the local management colleagues who are responsible for the provision of the patient meal service. To organise this, I would ask that you please contact my colleague Lorna Campbell, who is the Site Facilities Manager at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, at Lorna.Campbell@ggc.scot.nhs.uk.”

With Best Wishes,

Lorna

  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful

Update posted by Forbidden fruit (the patient)

Dear Lorna,

Thank you again for your time, and for forwarding William Hunter's response.

I confirm that I will be more than happy to meet him, and any other people responsible for the catering services at RAH who wish to be present.

As we are now hurtling towards Christmas, I'll be in touch with Lorna Campbell early in the New Year, when I hope we'll be able to arrange a date for our meeting.

Regards,

F. fruit

Update posted by Forbidden fruit (the patient)

Well, I e-mailed on 15th January saying that I'd be please to meet with Mr. Hunter and asking for suitable dates and times.

I haven't even had an acknowledgement.

Not impressed.

F. fruit

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear F. fruit,

Can I please extend my sincere apologies for the lapse in communication. If you are still available to meet within RAH, to discuss your experience of patient catering, can you please confirm your availability from Tuesday 10th February. The Site Facilities Manager & Catering Manager will be available to meet with you.

Yours Sincerely,

William Hunter,

General Manager

  • Forbidden fruit thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} of {{totalOthers()}} other people think so too

Update posted by Forbidden fruit (the patient)

Thank you Mr. Hunter.

I am available any day from 17th February to 12th March.

When fixing a time, I'd be grateful if you would take into account that Paisley is a four-hour drive from my home.

Lorna Campbell should have my name and personal e-mail address, but I'll contact her again to make sure that she does.

Regards,

F. fruit