FOOD quality on Redditch’s wards has been named among the bottom 20 per cent in the country.
Both the Alexandra Hospital and Hillcrest mental health ward fared badly in a survey of patients as part of a new drive towards minimum food standards in the NHS.
Quality at the Alex was given a 85.14 per cent satisfaction rating while choice was given 78.62 per cent. The cost of food service – which includes transportation as well as the food itself – is £9.26 per patient per day.
At Hillcrest, quality was given 84.38 per cent and choice 94.71 per cent while the cost for each patient every day was identified as being £13.81.
Both sites have fresh fruit available and food on offer between meals but while the Alex’s menu had been checked by a dietitian, Hillcrest’s had not.
New rules have been introduced this week in a bid to drive up standards, with each hospital having to screen patients for malnutrition, ensure everyone gets help they need to eat and drink and source food in a sustainable way.
But Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health, said the directives did not go far enough.
“Hospitals should move away from cook/chill food production and towards cooking food on site using locally sourced food.
“Hospital catering staff are working hard to produce quality food against the backdrop of budget cuts and privatisation.
“They also need enough time to ensure that patients are not only getting the right food, but have the help and time they need to be able to eat it.”
A spokesman for the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs the Alex – said they were ‘disappointed’ with the results of the survey.
“Nutrition is an extremely important part of patient recovery and we are constantly striving to improve and continue to invest in nutrition to make sure we are providing high-quality meals which meet the needs of all our patients.
“We will now be starting further discussions with all providers to look at the finer details of the report – along with the recommendations laid out in the Hospital Food Standards Panel report – to identify the improvements we need to make.”
A spokeswoman for the Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, in charge of Hillcrest, added “We recognise that the provision of high quality, nutritious meals is a big part of providing a good overall experience for patients and are committed to sustaining performance in those high performing facilities, and making improvements in the couple of places where we are below where we should be.”