NHS Lanarkshire plates up perfection

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 17:17 BST on Tuesday 26th June 2012.

NHS Lanarkshire’s hospital food can no longer be the concept behind jokes about bad food and micro-dinners, as a taste testing event heralded good news for one the health service’s hospital.

MSPs, patients and the public turned out to scrutinise the quality of food available at Hairmyres Hospital. The event was held as a result to requests from patients and the public that the quality of good must be improved.

Judith Park, Hairmyres Hospital general manager, said: “The food tasting sessions allowed patients and the public to give us their views on the improvements we have made. Everyone we spoke to was very positive and the feedback we have received from patients in the wards has also been great.

“Patient satisfaction is important to us. Although we have already implemented a number of changes, we recognise this is an ongoing process. We will continue to work with our service providers, dieticians and patient representatives to monitor nutritional standards, quality and patient satisfaction.”

Served up on a silver platter for the critics were dishes like roast pork, shepherd’s pie, fish and vegetarian options, baked potatoes, and desserts, along with cold salads and garnished sandwiches.

Among the testers was Margaret McCulloch a Labour MSP for Central Scotland.  “I think the hospital is working really hard to improve people’s perception of food and they are going to continue to do so. I spoke to people and they said the food was lovely,” she said.

“The fact that the hospital is allowing the food to be tasted by the public, with me here, shows the confidence they have in the quality of the food, so full credit to the hospital.”

Feedback taken from the event has saw management, catering and clinical come together to improve the patient experience and quality of the food.

Tracy Eyre, ISS catering manager, said: “Feedback from the patients is vital to us to ensure we can provide the best quality of food and choice possible.

“One of the most important changes has been the appointment of the ISS patient engagement coordinator who speaks with the patients to find out what they think of their meals so that we can make changes wherever required,” she added.

“The feedback we’ve been getting so far has been really positive so we’re determined to keep that going.”

The patients and public who attended the event were suitably impressed.

Sheila Aitkenhead, a patient from East Kilbride, said: “The food has improved greatly in the last three years - the management have been listening. A lot of the things I tried today have been lovely.

“The quality and the selection the last time I was in here as a patient was great.”

Duncan Stewart said:  “The food was fantastic – lovely. If I was served this food in a hospital ward I would be over the moon.”

William Shanks, from Blantyre, said: “I thought the food was excellent, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Three years ago I was in for five weeks. Sometime the food was hot the next time it was cold but that is a big improvement. If you get that it would be great.”

Karen Shepard-Best, from Blantyre, said: “I am a fussy eater, I am very hard to please, and I don’t eat out very often but I thought the food was absolutely gorgeous, the dessert topped it off, it was absolutely superb.

“If that was served up to patients I don’t think there could be many complaints.”

Charelene McKinlay, from Blantyre, added: “I am a big fan of food, definitely, and the sausage was out of this world, the mashed potatoes, everything was just perfect.”