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Hospital food. Any good?

Eddie Mair | 14:19 UK time, Thursday, 17 September 2009


This blog says it's not. What's your experience?


  • 1. At 3:02pm on 17 Sep 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Mostly good, to be honest - the most recent times I've been in hospital, that is to say. In our area, the hospitals seem to be pretty enlightened. Everything is cooked 'in house', there is good choice, and you can recognise the dishes for what they purport to be, not only in appearance but - more importantly - in taste.

    In any event, it is surely the nutritional value of hospital meals that should be the main concern? That much said, I guess if something looks unappealing and the patient's appetite is poor, there is a lower chance of the meal being eaten.

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  • 2. At 3:07pm on 17 Sep 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    None of that looks very appetising and I'm not ill in hospital. Strange how many plates with peas and the variation in pea colour.

    Big Sis, I think you've been fortunate.

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  • 3. At 3:07pm on 17 Sep 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    The man is seeking DONATIONS!!!!!! For heaven's sake!!!!!

    If you speak to him, Eddie, I would like an answer to the question of just what he is seeking donations for. I could send him some soup, but I'm not prepared to pay him money for a Blog!

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  • 4. At 3:24pm on 17 Sep 2009, Looternite wrote:

    Born at home (well that was where my my mum was at the time)and have never been in hospital as a patient and so I have never tasted it. However, when I visited someone in hospital she was upset as the only chicken on the menu card was Halal chicken.

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  • 5. At 4:06pm on 17 Sep 2009, Liz Verran wrote:

    My experience of Kingston hospital was appalling. Not only was the food grotty, they managed to give the full-fat buid-me-up yoghurts to me (unable to digest fat after gall-bladder removal) and low-fat yoghurt to the very underweight old folks - go figure!! I was throwing up everything due to antibiotics anyway, so it didn't matter but really ...

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  • 6. At 4:47pm on 17 Sep 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    5 - My aunt is in that hospital at the moment, and the reports I've had from my cousin completely concur with your observations. The food, she says, is appalling, and for an elderly lady like my aunt, there is no incentive to eat whatsoever. Not that anyone, apart from my cousin, has ever made any attempt to entice her into eating. She is wasting away.

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  • 7. At 5:13pm on 17 Sep 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    My experience has been of overcooked and unappetising food which I ate because I needed food and even looked forward to because I was so, so bored.

    However after a day of nil by mouth since the previous evening, waiting for an operation which was cancelled*, and all they could bring me was cold white toast and virulently red jam-style spread, I guzzled it from sheer hunger.

    * Cancelled, I should say, because I was less in need than the person whose op did take place - it was urgent and took a long time; which I think is fair enough.

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  • 8. At 5:25pm on 17 Sep 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Having said that, I have seen elderly, very ill people wasting away because there was nothing, neither taste nor appearance, to entice them to eat; my heart goes out to you and your family, Big Sis.

    Jaffa cakes, brought in by friends and family, kept one dear family friend in her 80s going. Is there any treat, however 'unhealthy', she could face?

    I hope you're OK now, lizzievee.

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  • 9. At 5:59pm on 17 Sep 2009, Murtonia wrote:

    My friend has just come out of the London Hospital. During the twelve days she was there she could not eat anything that was offered to her. It was simply awful. She survived on what her partner took in for her. Even tea and coffee were undrinkable.

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  • 10. At 6:05pm on 17 Sep 2009, sherbert39 wrote:

    I was in Northampton General over Christmas. The food wasnt restaurant standard but certainly good enough. Christmas dinner was a fine effort and well appreciated.

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  • 11. At 6:07pm on 17 Sep 2009, Jenny F wrote:

    In 2003 I was in Kingston Hospital, initially on a public NHS ward then later on a private ward when my husband was able to activate our health insurance cover.

    The food on the NHS ward was absolutely disgusting. Sour milk with cereal, stone cold food, and food unrecognizable as being what was ordered.

    One evening I had asked for brown bread and a banana in order to make a sandwich and a glass of milk. ALL I actually got was one slice of stale white bread. I was informed that everything else had 'run out'. I had been unable to eat my lunch because again what I ordered was not available and what WAS left was unpalatable. In the end, my husband went to a local shop and bought me some sandwiches when he came to visit.

    When I moved to the private ward, the experience was quite different. The food was at least edible and I got what I ordered at every meal. There were healthy choices at every meal, in contrast to the NHS ward.

    When I went home, I made a complaint and received an apology and was told that things would improve.

    Seemingly 6 years is not adequate for any changes to be implemented judging from the above comments.

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  • 12. At 6:09pm on 17 Sep 2009, pmpipblog wrote:

    Have just come out of Guys hospital following major spinal surgery - the food was fine - more importantly the catering staff made sure we all had what we wanted even if we werent on the ward and gave our relatives tea. (I dont think they were supposed to do this!)They were fantastic and really cared about all the people on the ward. Well done Guys!

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  • 13. At 6:12pm on 17 Sep 2009, Jancham wrote:

    When my mum was in hospital in Brighton about four years ago, the food was even worse than the standard of care. She remained in the emergency admission ward for a week, and one day when I was there a young Frenchman came round with the 'lunch menu'. He asked her what she would like and she asked what there was, 'Some kind of,erm, meat' he replied, with a slightly disgusted expression. 'No thankyou' she said, whereupon he replied, 'Very wise choice, madame.'!
    She then said 'is there anything else?' and he replied that there had been some ice cream, but that it was all gone.
    Great way to treat elderly and very ill patients.

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  • 14. At 6:16pm on 17 Sep 2009, steelpulse wrote:

    When I was in hospital - twice in the last forty years - my critical faculties were put on hold as far as the food stuff was concerned. I didn't recall any actual meals but it sufficed.

    My memory of a two week placement in a hospital kitchen as part of my catering school education was a bit of a shock.

    Mass portions though and stuff I had only heard about from the time before I was born. Powdered what ever. Cream Caramel was wonderful to behold from someone who had learnt individual dariole moulds were appropriate.

    Squeeze Burnt Suger substitute all over large baking dish and add the re-constituted .......... Nah. I cannot go on. lol

    I think with hospital food - it is too easy a target to hit - when I was told by my newspaper today - most of us - allegedly - cannot boil an egg.

    I obviously don't know the "most of us" commentator was on about. I start counting able cooks of my acquaintance - I would reach double figures fairly quickly and none of them would be on TV.

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  • 15. At 6:17pm on 17 Sep 2009, Nick Betts wrote:

    On my stays in hospital in this country I've 'cheated' and gone for the Halal food wherever possible. This is ready-meal style pre-packed and reheated but at least it is tasty and edible.

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  • 16. At 6:42pm on 17 Sep 2009, madmitch69 wrote:

    My wife is a nurse here in the Scottish Highlands - she says you wouldn't want to eat the Haggis in hospital up here!!

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  • 17. At 6:43pm on 17 Sep 2009, PaulHudson1949 wrote:

    I spent 6 months in St James Hospital, Leeds recently for Chemotherapy. The food was just adequate. It was better, I was told, when prepared in house but now all the Leeds hospitals get their food from a factory in Wales it is then chilled and reheated in cabinets in the hospital. Would this be a good way to run a restaurant? The method is just OK for airlines but NOT for hospitals.

    Change? I do not think so. With long contracts and not wanting to bother the patients come a bit low down the list here. Complaints got people nowhere so families were bringing in food on quite a regular basis not to supplement but to replace what was offered. My MP wrote on my behalf but like all big concerns all they do is fob you off with statistics and generalities. Patients are paying for this so they need a bigger say.

    No one in St James's ever asked patients on my ward,88, about their thoughts; well it would be a waste of time when contracts are already sealed. One way forward would be to make the executives eat the same meals as the patients.

    Paul Hudson

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  • 18. At 6:59pm on 17 Sep 2009, montyman50 wrote:

    I suffer from a chronic and incurable illness and my most recent experience of hospital food was that it was utterly unappetising, virtually inedible and lacking in nutritional value. I was informed that it had been prepared in a factory in Wales (more than a hundred miles away), the hospital's own kitchen having been closed because of a contamination issue. No wonder then that it was utterly unappetising.

    I communicated my concerns to the nursing staff and the consultant in charge of my treatment who advised me to communicate my concerns to the chief executive of the hospital trust and to the hospital's dietician. The chief executive replied eventually with meaningless platitudes attempting to reasure me that every effort was made to ensure that the meals served were of adequate nutritional value. I am still not convinced and have considered moving my care to a distant but altogether better hospital.

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  • 19. At 7:07pm on 17 Sep 2009, RJMolesworth wrote:

    lizzievee and jennysue, Kingston has always been a terrible hospital for food. My father was there in the 1970's for 3 weeks and the food was just dreadful. It was, and I am sure still is, a soul destroying place but at least in those days the nursing care was very good.

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  • 20. At 11:54pm on 17 Sep 2009, artisticsocrates wrote:

    I was in hospital for one week last year. I'd not tasted food properly for about six months due to my illness, everything had tasted quite disgusting.

    After my operation I enjoyed everything I ate as if it were prepared by the best chef you could find: even beans on toast tasted fabulous. I recall the hospital food as being satisfying and tasty; I was ravenous and enjoyed what I ate. What I had to learn was to tick all the boxes on the menu so I had a portion of cake in the afternoon with tea.

    I was not hungry; the portions were small, but suitable for a person lying in bed or sitting for most of the day. I had no complaints in this area.

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  • 21. At 00:07am on 18 Sep 2009, JacquelineDiane wrote:

    I`m only surprised that the hospital food remained on the trolley long enough to be photographed. Invariably it is whisked away so quickly that the patients don`t even get the chance to ascertain whether or not it is palatable.

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  • 22. At 00:09am on 18 Sep 2009, JacquelineDiane wrote:

    The hospital food could be submitted for the Turner Prize. That statement doesn`t need qualifying.

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  • 23. At 00:16am on 18 Sep 2009, JacquelineDiane wrote:

    Were some kindly doctors sparing me additional suffering as I have always had a notice above my bed bearing the instruction "nil by mouth"?

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  • 24. At 01:10am on 18 Sep 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    There'll be a range of different responses because there's a range of different catering companies providing the food in hospitals. When cleaning, janitorial and catering services were contracted-out, whatever was saved in monetary terms on paper was lost in standards and team work. The 'collective responsibility' that existed to provide joined-up care, often with some overlap, was replaced by a strict demarcation of responsibilities. It was a mistake in my opinion, and resulted in a conflict of cultures and objectives within hospitals.

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