Microwave meals on the cards for hospital patients
Last updated at 12:29, Thursday, 24 May 2012
PATIENTS at the new West Cumberland Hospital could be served microwaved meals heated up on wards, The Whitehaven News can reveal.
The way the hospital provides meals for patients is going to change, say health bosses, and a proposal is to have microwaves on the wards.
The ‘steam meals’ may be brought to the £90million redeveloped hospital in water and then microwaved on the wards, instead of food being cooked on site by catering staff.
Staff are angry and upset at the proposal by the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the West Cumberland Hospital. There are currently 40-50 staff in the catering department and they will still be involved in the future, says the Trust.
But Christine Wharrier, Unison representative at West Cumberland Hospital, claims staff jobs could be at risk. She said the news was revealed – by chance – during a staff meeting at the hospital on Tuesday to discuss progress on the redevelopment. She believes staff and patients will suffer as a result of the “cost-cutting” exercise by hospital bosses.
“This is an appalling treatment of staff – they did not know about this until they found out today (Tuesday) at what should have been a positive meeting for staff about the progression of the new hospital. This has come right out of the blue. The staff have found out that it looks like their jobs could be at risk, microwaving meals on a ward is not a job,” she said. “As far as we are aware it is called steam food and comes in ready-prepared packs. These microwave meals they are talking about have been trashed in the media,” she added.
The Sun newspaper recently reported that a Big Mac was healthier than 75 per cent of the 25 meals it examined in a study about meals which come in through the NHS supply chain. But the Trust says the meals will all be nutritionally balanced.
A spokesman said: “Our meals for patients are strictly regulated and we will be involving dieticians in the process to ensure that every patient has a healthy, balanced diet which acts as an important compliment in providing the best patient care and experience whilst staying in West Cumberland Hospital.
“How patients’ meals are prepared and served in the future is likely to change and this may involve preparing and serving food on a ward-by-ward basis. However, this is yet to be fully determined and any changes will be focused on enhancing patient experiences, of which food and nutrition plays an important part. Any staff currently involved in delivering this service will also be involved in the future.”
There will still be a restaurant on level three of the new hospital for visitors and staff, and a kitchen on level two. There will also be a commercial coffee outlet, says the Trust, although agreement has not been reached on which company will provide this. The restaurant will continue to serve meals, soup and sandwiches.
Last September, following the annual Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) assessment, the food at the West Cumberland Hospital was said to be “excellent”.
The spokesman added: “The Trust believes it is vital that our staff are informed of any changes and are involved in the process. When the operational plan is being developed over the next two years in the run up to the opening of the new hospital we will fully engage our staff both in developing the best way forward and ultimately delivering this important service to patients, visitors and staff.”
First published at 11:13, Thursday, 24 May 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
'Mean while on planet earth': it has already been proven that good, wholesome, nutritional food in hospital has a direct correlation to patient healing and recovery. Again, it has already been proven that the above can be provided in-situ at no extra cost. It is about awareness.
Converese to your comment, many people are in hospital for more than a few days. You obviously enjoy good health, many do not. If you have ever visited someone in hospital, have you noticed the amount of food that visitors bring in for their loved ones?
'Mean while on planet earth': it's all in the name.
No-one asked the diet cooks or anyone else for that matterIt was a decision made becos of the financial budget.
once more patient services are a cost cutting execise.Wher`s Jamie Oliver when you need him?
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