'Hospital food delayed my recovery' says patient

Image caption,
Giselle Dye says the quality of hospital food was very disappointing

Giselle Dye says poor hospital food left her weak and delayed her recovery from surgery by weeks.

Ms Dye, from Portobello in Edinburgh, went into the Western General in the city in April 2015 for surgery on a benign brain tumour.

She was in hospital for a month after the operation but thinks she could have been home in half the time if she had been fed properly.

She told BBC Scotland: "Obviously I was very weak after the surgery but I felt I was not getting enough of all the right things to eat."

For the first three days , Ms Dye said she was on a "soft" diet which means her food was pureed.

She said: "They'd obviously taken a plate of food and pureed it, so I was given a plate of pink goo."

Ms Dye said she became extremely weak and kept fainting.

"After three or four days I realised I was fainting because I was hungry," she said.

"The care I got was fantastic but the food was frankly disappointing.

"There often wasn't enough of it and when it came it was quite unappetising."

She says her husband started to take boiled eggs to her each morning on his way to work.

"Within three days I was stronger and better and getting up and moving," she says.

"I think I was in hospital a lot longer than I needed to be because I was not getting the right kind of food and I wasn't getting enough food.

"I found it difficult to get any fruit.

"My husband brought in other things like peanut butter and toast, things that were easy to eat and enjoyable. One night I sent him out for fish and chips because I was so hungry."

Ms Dye says: "I think I was probably in hospital two weeks longer than I needed to be because I was weak.

"I was weak because I was not getting enough and the right kind of food to eat."

A recent Scottish Care Experience Survey said food and drink played "an important part in a patient's recovery and consequently they are subject to national standards for food, fluid and nutritional care in hospitals".

It said food was an area where a "substantial percentage of people reported a negative experience".

The survey also noted "considerable variation between NHS boards" with positive responses ranging from 56% to 91%.

A number of people contacted BBC Scotland to say they had a positive experience of hospital food.

NHS Lothian told BBC Scotland that the kitchen at St John's hospital in Livingston provided its cheapest meals "but is widely recognised for the high quality meals served".

It said food at the Western General was currently a hybrid of food produced in the hospital kitchen and "frozen meals purchased through national contracts".

A spokeswoman said the health board was moving towards local production for the whole menu.

Ms Dye said staff at the time of her hospital stay told her the food was prepared off-site and brought to Scotland from south of the border.

"I was surprised because Scotland's got a great reputation for food and drink," she says.

"I think the only food that was prepared on site was baked potatoes and soup and actually that was the nicest food I got the whole time I was there."

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