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Hospital's food rated as one of the worst in the country
PATIENTS have rated hospital food in Southampton among some of the worst in the country, according to a survey by healthcare inspectors.
For every ten patients asked by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) only 4.8 said that the meals they ate while being treated at hospitals run by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) was “good”.
This sees the trust, which runs Southampton General and Princess Anne Hospitals, ranked in the lowest third of 156 trusts in the country – despite city hospital bosses spending more on hospital food – averaging £11.11 a day per patient – compared to others.
But Southampton hospital chiefs, who rate their food 4.5 out of five, have defended the quality of its catering, claiming that monthly surveys by independent volunteers sees 97 per cent of patients rating the food as good or very good. The Campaign for Better Hospital Food unveiled the data, showing that NHS hospitals across the country award themselves a high rating for the quality of their patient meals, despite a CQC survey showing the dissatisfaction of patients.
Alex Jackson, from the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: “It is time for the Government to come clean about the sorry state of hospital food in England and set mandatory standards for patient meals.
“This would only involve extending an existing policy which has seen it set mandatory standards for prison food and food served in Government departments, to go alongside those that already exist for school food.”
The poor CQC rating for food offered by the city trust comes after years of controversy over the quality of food on offer since the trust awarded private company Medirest the five-year contract in 2009 to supply meals.
These Steamplicity meals are pre-prepared in St Albans and then steamed in microwaves in ward kitchens.
After the Daily Echo was flooded with complaints from readers about the food in 2010, Southampton Itchen MP John Denham tucked into three meals himself and gave it seven out of ten, describing them as “perfectly fine”.
While the trust ranks 137 out of 156 when it comes to patients rating the food as “good”, the hospital scores highly when patients are asked about the choice on offer, with 8.7 out of every ten patients saying they had a choice of food.
Judy Gillow, director of nursing at UHS, defended the quality of food, insisting that the trust is “fully compliant”
with all the CQC’s essential standards, which includes food and drink, and has scored highly in the most recent national patient environment team review.
She added: “We regularly ask our patients for their views and every month independent volunteers carry out surveys where 97 per cent of our patients say their food is good or very good.
“In response to patient feedback we have made several improvements over the last year and as a result have seen increased positive feedback about the quality of food on offer.
“However, we welcome any feedback which may help us further improve our patients’ hospital experience and we will carefully assess the findings of this report to see if any action is required to maintain the high standards we set ourselves.”
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