Patient catering expands as part of £3m improvement programme

Tuesday July 9, 2019

The patient catering department has quadrupled in size, from 50 to more than 200 members of staff, as part of the trust’s £3m improvement programme to transform inpatient food and drink services.

On Monday (1 July), new food service assistants (FSAs) started work in Worthing Hospital, delivering food and drink to patients in a new way, which sees meals plated on the ward. Previously meals were served in the main kitchens and then transported to the wards in heated trolleys.

The new process at Worthing Hospital has been in place at St Richard’s Hospital for 10 years, but, until now, meals have been served by housekeepers or hostesses, managed by nursing teams.

As part of the trust’s Patient Catering improvement programme, however, these members of staff have been welcomed into the Western Sussex Hospitals patient catering family as new FSAs.

Head of catering, Tony Shea, said: “I am so proud of our FSAs who started their new roles at St Richard’s in May, and this week in Worthing. This has been a big change for many of these colleagues and they’re doing a superb job.

“As part of the patient catering team, they will now receive more specialist support to help us ensure the food service we provide to patients is the very best it can be.”

Our new menu has been jointly developed by patient catering, dietetic, nursing and therapies teams

The FSAs join colleagues from the trust kitchens, chefs, general assistants, storemen, team leaders and managers to create a much stronger catering service for the trust.

They also start in their new department at an exciting time, with millions being invested to provide inpatients with much more choice and better options for food and drinks on the wards.

To enable this, the kitchen at St Richard’s is undergoing a major refurbishment with all the equipment currently being replaced with new kit.

Once this reopens as a central production unit (CPU) later in the year, a new menu will be introduced offering patients 20 different meal choices, and 40 different snack options, every single day.

“We’re very proud to of the new service we have designed because it is much more suited to our patients’ needs, putting them and their wellbeing first,” said the trust’s director of Estates & Facilities.

“Our new menu, which will be introduced later this year, has been jointly developed by the trust’s patient catering, dietetic, nursing and therapies teams and will offer significantly more choice for lunch and supper, as well as an all-day grazing and snack menu.

 “We’re moving away from the traditional two-week rolling menu, where you only have four choices per day, to a system where any patient can choose any one of 20 main courses on any day.”

The key to this improvement is the introduction of a new cook-freeze-regeneration system, where food will be freshly cooked at the central production unit (CPU) at St Richard’s Hospital, then frozen and regenerated to be served piping hot on the wards by the new FSAs.

Until the CPU is completed, a temporary menu is in place offering patients a choice of six meals a day.

David Connelly, a patient on Chiltington ward in Worthing Hospital, said: “For me, lunch and dinner is the highlight of the day, so to see that my local hospital is improving what is already a great service means a lot to us as patients.”

As part of the £3m investment, the project team is also looking to refurbish the ward pantry kitchens to help improve facilities throughout the trust.

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