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Public test of hospital meals is a taste sensation

16 March 2017

Health Care

As part of National Nutrition and Hydration Week, Medirest, Southend Hospital’s catering supplier and the leading provider of catering and soft services to the NHS, filled the old main entrance with delicious food as it presented a range of meals it supplies to over 20,000 patients a month.

The mouth-watering selection of food included poached salmon, goat's cheese and sweet potato pie, chicken and bacon pasta with spinach and sweet and sour chicken and staff and public alike enjoyed the range of options on offer.

Kim Dunmore, from the hospital's Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), said: "It's nice to see the variety on offer and they are all really nice foods, the salmon is particularly nice and mild. People get to see it and taste it, the pie tastes homemade."

Thomas Clements-Hill, aged 8, from Southend, was on his way to an appointment with his mum when he took the opportunity to try the food on offer. Between tucking in he commented: "I like all of them."

There were also members of staff from across the hospital who came along to taste the samples, including Student Nurse, Tracey Durrant, and Balmoral Ward Clerk, Jon Allen.

Both tried the macaroni cheese, chicken tikka and lasagne, with Tracey saying: "They are all nice but the lasagne was the best for me."

Jon added: "I thought the lasagne was best as well, for me it was as good as one you would get in a pub. Taste tests like this are really helpful as it means we are able to give some feedback on food and can honestly comment on the food to patients and relatives having eaten it."

There are over 30 meal options available on the hospital's patient menu at any one time and helping ensure a dedicated team of professionals get that food right and to patients is Egle Cironkaite, Contract General Manager, at Medirest.

Egle said: "We've had an overwhelming response today and some fantastic feedback on the quality of the food. Cottage pie, chicken soup and fish in parsley sauce are some of the most popular dishes for patients.

"The top ten meals always stay on the menu, although we sometimes update the recipes after taking feedback from patients and volunteers. From our point of view the hospital is like a giant restaurant and we want patients to get the best experience and nutrition they can from the food choices, whether they be adventurous or more traditional."

And like restaurants they are always looking at ways of enhancing the menu offer, normally bringing in four or five new meals in every six months. Some of the latest additions being finger food options, such as chicken goujons or fish fingers, which meet the demands for some patients with dementia who may not be able to use a knife and fork.

The Medirest team have also introduced smaller portions of food, under the heading of light and simple, and these are great for patients who have smaller appetites.

Egle explained: "Sometimes patients see a normal-sized dish as a challenge, less so with the smaller dishes which are very popular.

"Whether it is new food items, improving favourites or delivering a dish in a slightly different way that encourages patient eating, we are here to meet the needs of the patients."