Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Thank you

Thank you to all of you who posted here or emailed me after last night's programme. Some of your stories were heartbreaking and I will try to get round to replying to you but I am snowed under with the response and there is only me to deal with all the correspondence.

Thank you too to the people who posted some fairly vile comments about me personally and my ingratitude at the state for honouring my National Insurance contributions. All I can say is that some of the more rabid posters neither listened not digested the full argument. I wasn't moaning about my healthcare. I had excellent nursing and surgical care and I would do anything to support the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. It's a fantastic hospital and I am more grateful than I can ever say for the love and support that many of the staff showed me. However, I feel under no obligation to be grateful to Sodexo or the catering contractor. They are paid money to do a job. If the money on offer from the hospital is insufficient to provide decent and nutritious food then I suggest they turn the contract down. It's not difficult.

The NHS has faults and the programme uncovered some disturbing information about how vulnerable groups are cared for and fed. For those who blindly defend the system as it stands, all I can say is that you probably haven't been in hospital with a serious illness yet. It is, of course, always possible for friends and family to help feed a patient, but sometimes patients don't have family living locally or they may be at a specialist hospital some considerable distance from home. Then there is the argument that they should pay for the food. Overlooking the fact that medical insurance normally covers food costs, it can be difficult if you fall seriously ill and can't work. Money becomes tight or non-existent. The last thing you need is the financial worry. That's why the NHS was set up. If you pay for food, then how about drugs? What about dressings? Maybe personal care too? Where do you want to stop?

I could go on but I'm really tired so forgive the shortness of the post.


  1. Your a complete disgrace. Your a fame hungry journalist who was more excited by the fact you had so many hits from all over the world.

    Your a moaner and nothing is ever good enough. Just be happy your alive and able to eat food at all!

  2. I have absolutely no hunger for fame, Adrian... just a decent meal for all NHS patients. I mentioned the number of hits on my blog to illustrate how important a subject hospital food is with the public. You clearly didn't watch the programme properly or else you're simply unable to assimilate the evidence on offer.

  3. I cant believe anyone could watch that programme and not get the point it was making. When you are a long-term patient meal times become the highlight of the day. The food should at the very least be digestible! I say more power to your elbow TM, and if all else fails hit your critics with your crutches!

  4. Hi Traction Man!

    Just watching a repeat of the documentary now, I recently spent two days in hospital and the food was rather bland! I only ate it because I was hungry ;(

    Interestingly enough, I work for a company which imports Baobab, a superfood which can be added to any food. It has some amazing properties, 6x more Vitamin C than oranges, 2x more calcium than milk and many more! Baobab is primarly used in Africa for the elderly, pregnant ladies, children and of course people who are unwell. We would love to include baobab in nhs foods. If you have anyone we can talk to, or if you'd like a sample or any other info, please email me at: safiyya.hannaa@mightybaobab.com

    Great work in acknowledging and surfacing everyone thoughts which have been festering for years! :)

  5. a reluctant sodexo worker22 February 2011 at 09:01

    i watched your programme last night with great interest. i am in full support of what you are trying to achieve. myself and my colleagues campained for many months with flyers,petitions and union banners to try stop the privatisation of our hospital kitchens, even our local MP joined us but we were unsuccesful and sodexo has now taken over, much to our dissappointment. we have seen the meals change.
    as a catering assistant i have to serve these meals to patients. yes, some days they are good, but on the whole i dont rate them.we were taken over by sodexo from the NHS but i dont like working with this new company, but with the jobs market as it is, i feel i must stick it out in the hope that things get better.
    i watch with baited breath in the hope your programme has an impact on the powers that be and that hospitals can be rid of these cook chill meals.

  6. Hi there TM,

    I watched your programme last night. I applaud you for highlighting hospital food standards to the nation! I really hope you don't take others negative comments to heart, these people clearly have no grasp on reality nor the importance of the nutritional needs of the vulnerable in hospital.

    I work in a hospital as a Nursing Assistant. I come across many scenarios everyday that are seriously lacking, its very frustrating when lack of money is the number one reason for most of the shortfalls occurring. Not enough staff comes close second.

    Good luck with your patients revolution..it was a long time coming!!!

  7. I was very interested to see the programme last night - I too wrote a blog on the same subject last year, my dad has spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals in the last few years so I had a few stories to share. (http://www.ecademy.com/node.php?id=149842#comment). Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the rest of the UK - let's hope something is finally done to improve the situation.

  8. I watched your program last night, and for me, it really highlighted just how bad the hospital food in this country really is. I haven't spent a length of time in hospital, but I know people who have and I always thought that they were kidding about the food - how wrong was I?!

    Personally, I hope that something will be done to resolve the situation soon - now that the problem has been highlighted fully.

  9. I would just like to praise the programme that you made last night, it was an insight from someone who had to suffer the disgusting food that not even our prison population has to suffer.

    My mother was in St.Thomas's Hospital , London for a period of nigh on six months way back in the early nineties and she lost 5 stone during that period, it got so bad that they eventually on my insistence tube fed her.

    During her stay she did not get better but a kind junior doctor told me in confidence she would be safer at home with me caring for her, I removed her from the hospital and after a relatively short time she recovered with some good old fashioned home cooking.

    Your hope that the situation will improve after your programme highlighted the problems I have very little hope of, the government is now putting all the decision making out to GPs, this will not help improve hospital food but instead make the problem worse.

    What we need is a countrywide set of legislation that all hospitals have to comply with and any new hospitals that are built have to have kitchens by law.

    I shall be adding your blogg to my list on my blog as I get many people who would be interested in this subject.


  10. Thank you for trying to make the world a better place. There will always be people who do not understand your motivation, so there is always a personal cost when you make a stand.

    Hopefully, something will result from your efforts. Keep up the good work.

  11. I just wanted to congratulate you on the program last night and for trying to bring a much ignored situation into the light. I was in hospital nine years ago for 17 weeks. This was following a serious accident which I was lucky to survive, and was very immobile throughout the whole time. I felt incredibly weak, and this was not helped by the lack of edible food. To all the negative commentators out there; YES I'm lucky to be alive, YES the hospital treatment and surgery saved my life, and YES the physios were incredible at getting me back on my feet. But NO, NO, NO and No again to being grateful for whatever food you get given!!! The food was diabolical and on a three week rota, so I soon had the same apalling options again. If you think bad hospital food is no big deal, imagine spending 17 weeks and not eating 3 out of every five meals. I was only kept going by my parents bringing me sandwiches and fruit as the hospital meals offered no nutrition at all. The saddest thing is I had hoped that in nine years, the situation would have improved (lord knows there's been enough publicity!), but watching this program, it seems as bad as ever.

  12. Well done traction man, my husband spent 78 days in a south wales hospital at the tale end of last year. Every thing you reported was spot on. Even my husbands medical team told me to bring in food for him as hospital food was crap!!!!! Catering staff called patients food "patient slop".... Ignore the negative comments from the uneducated and ill informed I challenge them to eat it for a length of time......

  13. Hi there,
    I wanted to say thank you, the reson I say this is because I suffer from an illness which often has seen me in hospital sometimes for long stays and this is a huge bugbare of not just myself but as you have found many others too. as for the folk that have slated you I say this I believe you need to spend time being an inpatient in a NHS hospital and I do not mean for 1 or 2 days we can all deal with that but a lenghthy stay and then see what you think of this but no wait that is unlikely to happen because you may be in very good health so therefor do not judge what you know nothing about. again I have to say while the care I recieved was great the food was not and due to my illness I need a good standard of nutrition and that is not provided. Maybe you were not aware but in some trusts sodexo have managed to gain contracts for 30 plus years how the hell did that happen

  14. I am all for this petition and have signed my name for it. Luckily the longest I've stayed in a hospital was for 24 hours but I know I would have been stuffed if I had stayed any longer. Being vegan, most of the staff were not sure what that meant and asked if I had brought food with me (which they never warned me about so I didn't think of it). I had toast and jam in the evening and the same the next morning with a banana (they had cereal too but no dairy alternatives for me). From watching the program it looks like I would have had even less choice than you did, which is scary!

    On another note whilst visiting my cousin in hospital who has terminal cancer, she was given what looked like shepherds pie to go with her orange juice, bread roll and ice cream. I was appalled with how much it looked like baby food and stank so bad. And these will be the last meals she will ever eat. I am absolutely disgusted and hope something is done about this. Keep up with the campaign!


  15. I've been campaigning about the same thing + poor patient care for 20 years!!
    Loved the programme, perhaps when you've cleared the backlog, you could contact me here http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/2011/02/hospital-food-can-improve-heres-how.html
    And we can try to work together a little?
    I also managed to get this in the Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/09/nhs-hospital-wards-care-system?INTCMP=SRCH but it's a pretty taboo topic , so well done

  16. I saw your program last night purely due to nothing being on (sorry!) and was really surprised with how good it was. I initially dismissed it due to it seeming pretentious and overly whiny because of the ad channel 4 used but it was nothing like that at all.

  17. Sodexho lost their contract at our hospital and Medirest took over. The food in the canteen improved but patient food served is from Simplicity which is steam cooked food served on plastic plates, yes plastic plates and is completely inedible - think of microwaved food that is over heated and that is what is served to the patients. The chicken tastes of wood, the options are not appealing and if you choose fish and chips expect rubbery fish and chips. This was my recent experience of being hospitalised. My recovery only really started once I was home and eating nutritious home cooked meals.

    Well done for highlighting this issue.

  18. Great reporting. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Before he died, my father, who suffered from Dementia was often in and out of hospital. My mother used to visit the ward every day. This was to make sure he ate his food and had enough to drink. Most of the time she was taking food in for him. Thanks to her efforts he always came out of hospital and returned home. I wonder about the other poor sods who were on the same ward. One elderly gentleman kept shouting for a nurse. It transpired he wanted a drink. No-one came and in the end my Mother got him one.

  19. Wife in hospital right now - into her 6th week. Has spent last 5 years in and out for weeks/ months at a time. Totally agree food is poor, detremental to health, inedible, etc, etc.

    Though I disagree with your argument about patient charging - it should be considered. Don't see why free meals is a principle we have to keep. Free care - yes, but free meals?

    It wouldn't be the thin-end-of-the-wedge. You have to buy your own meals at home anyway, so why not contribute when in hospital?

    Even a token £1 per day contribution could make a big difference to increase the budget per meal and raise quality. £1 a day to ensure an edible breakfast, lunch and dinner - my wife spends way more than this in the hospital shop, just so she can at least eat "something" between the slop served up.

    Face-facts, £500m probably is probably too little to fund universal free meals. Yes, some innovative hospitals somehow manage it, but most don't (for whatever reason). If nothing else, a patient contribution would help kill the widespread excuse of "too limited a budget" and focus the argument squarely on quality and delivery. Would also give patients a proper "paid-say" on quality, as opposed to "well its free, so we ought not complain".

    Some (though not all) of the problem is sadly money. Currently money being wasted. In fact, hopsitals should be measured by the amount of food waste output. That'll show how well its going down!

    PS Last night my wife was asleep at meal time, no-one thought to wake her up, so the meal sat cold. Needless to say - inedible...again.

  20. I agree that a small charge would give patients a say although as we've paid taxes we really ought to have a consumer's input. My worry is that the money would get swallowed up unless it was ring-fenced audited. And like any charge, once introduced at a low level there's a tendency to increase the charge. We saw this with prescription charges. Once we establish charges for food, how about laundry, dressings, or drugs? Where would it stop? I don't trust politicians or bureaucrats one bit.

  21. Thank you so much for highlighting these issues. Since being diagnosed with myeloma in 2007, I have spent around 12 weeks in hospital on 7 different occasions (2 in the Royal Sussex, Brighton and 5 in the Royal Marsden, Sutton). I can honestly say that my experiences match yours exactly, both in terms of the quality of the food and care (or lack of it) of the elderly.

    Even though none of the issues you raised were a surprise to me, your programme still distressed me and reduced me to tears. I suspect I will feel the same after next week’s programme about treatment of the elderly in the NHS.

    I am actually in the Royal Marsden at the moment, but luckily am going home tomorrow and can't wait to get a decent meal.

    Yesterday I ordered sausage hot pot which contained the extremely poor quality sausages you featured in your programme (god only knows how little meat they contain) cooked in baked beans with a few onions and herbs thrown in. It was inedible.

    Today I ordered beef bourguignon. This was strangely enough made with mince and the sauce bore no resemblance to a bourguignon sauce whatsoever. Again it was inedible.

    Your programme gave me an idea today though which I hadn't thought of before. I rejected the beef bourguignon and asked one of the nurses to go and buy me a panini from the canteen instead, so at least I'm not quite so hungry now.

    During one of my stays at the Royal Marsden last year, I made lots of notes of issues which I feel require improvements. These were in many different areas including food, cleaning, inconsistencies in applying protocols and some elements of nursing care.

    I even had a meeting with the ISS cleaning manager while I was an inpatient and whilst she seemed receptive to my ideas and expressed gratitude for my feedback, I have seen no improvement in the cleaning standards between last summer and now.

    I plan to take up all my issues directly with the Royal Marsden through an initiative they call ‘Make A Difference’. However, so far I haven't been well enough to do so, but certainly will as soon as I can.

    I have signed the petition on the Dispatches website but if there is anything else I can do to help you in your quest, please let me know.

  22. Keep going, Haley. You're doing all the right things to make a difference. We've got to be more demanding. We need Mary Portas to look at some of the consumer issues in health care. Mary would make a great matron, wouldn't she? Hope things go well for you. Take care. Mark

  23. Hi Mark, Just in the middle of watching your Dispatches programme and just wanted to add my own well done!! I really hope that it manages to change something in the nhs.
    When my dad was in hospital he refused the rubbish that was being served and ended up eating in the staff canteen and the food there was of a far higher quality. If i or any of my relatives ended up in hospital i will make sure that i take in decent food for them.

    Keep up the good work!! Hopefully someone somewhere will take notice and things will start to change for the better.

    Shaz :)

  24. Well done Mark. I had to either buy or make food for my mother everyday before and after work when she was hospitalized - I was exhausted by HER illness! So I'm feeling you.

    The fact that people have completely misconstrued your program and taken the time to write in is a good sign. It means that either they have difficulty following the simplest facts or that you really stung the right people.

  25. Either we believe good food is acheiveable from the current budget(improvement), or that it needs more budget (combined with improvement and conditional).

    Poor hospital food has been an issue for years, with no end in sight. Seems to suggest improvement strategy alone, is not going to change this paradigm.

    To break the cycle and create a catalyst for change, we may have to be prepared to pay more tax or contribute as patients. But, trade this concession hard to ensure the fears you outline don't become a feature of the future.

  26. About time Mark, I have an elderly who has been in and out of hospital over the last 5 years, she has very bad eating habits at the best of times, so the excuse to only eat a unbuttered jacket potato because the food is so bad is very frustrating.

    Every time she has been in I, like many other people, have had to deliver a home cooked meal on a daily basis just try and get her to eat something nutritious. The food that did arrive from the hospital (usually something she didn't order) was as in-editable as you showed.

    I myself had an overnight spell in hospital 3 months ago and knowing that I would have to eat something before I was discharged I requested that my family bring me a McDonalds as I refused to eat the hospital food, not the most healthy option but at least it was edible !!!!

  27. Mark I had a sinking feeling when you mentioned on your programme that the revolting hospital food had been supplied by a firm in Wales. My mother who has early onset alzheimers had been having meals on wheels, as she was unable to cook for herself for safety reasons and was forgetting to eat etc and Ive got the worst feeling that the factory supplying your hospital meals also supplies the meals on wheels service in Abergavenny. My Mum, bless her was unable to communicate that she was unhappy with the food and probably didnt want to make a fuss, much the same as a lot of elderly people who live alone dont have any other choice if they live alone and are unable to cook anymore.Thankfully my lovely Mum is now in a Carehome where her food is cooked on the premises.I wish I had tried her food, but wrongly assumed it would be to a good standard to help maintain my Mothers health. Tandy.

  28. Glad you made such an excellent programme about something so important. Trouble is when you have someone you love seriously ill in hospital you tend not to complain and so managers seem able to qoute statistics saying most people are happy. My partner spent his last 10 weeks in hospital, struggling to eat the inedible food. I would have to bring food in every day. Asked if I could use the microwave in the ward kitchen but was first told there wasn't one and then by the time it was offered he was too weak to eat more than tiny mouthfuls. Nurses tried to insist I left the ward at protected meal times even though he could only eat if I was helping him. No staff ever helped him eat. Even if you are really polite and compliant you still are made to feel like a trouble maker when you make a stand like refusing to leave him to sit and look at a tray of inedible food for half an hour before it is taken away again. Shame on all the posters of comments who say people are ungrateful and should rely on friends to feed them. Are we a society that condemns people to starve to death if they have no friends or relations...

  29. Well done. For too many years we have accepted that poor food is part of the 'hospital experience' and it needs to stop!

    However, it is institutionalised food everywhere and not just hospitals - check out the food fed to soldiers in the UK - it is apalling, poor quality and nutrionally inadequate and yes, it is now contract catering, as the army only caters for troops overseas.

  30. Dear Adrian...

    Try spending around 6 months in and out of hospital with Leukaemia....Having chemotherapy and being left neutropenic which makes you more likely to get food poisoning.... then having food brought in from wales, warmed up, and then left out while being wheeled around the ward.....
    .....and try spending days being sick and being told you need to eat or it will make you lose weight and be weak.. and then receive food which looks like something that has been eaten, come out of someones backside, been eaten again, and then vomited up.

    Lucky for me I am only 20 years old so could do stuff for myself and my ward had a microwave... but other people aren't so lucky.

  31. im a senior (ie old) consultant working in a hospital. Im fortunate that the hospital I work in still does its own in in house catering, the staff get served the same as the patients and its IMHO reasonably good.
    My mother was ill in the Royal Marsden and the food was variable - between poor and awful. She, and some of the other patients in her ward were sustained with soup etc the family took in . The food for relatives in the RM was equally poor.
    I also visit prisons and the food in prisons is certainly better. And prisoners complaints about the standard of food have more effect than complaints from patients, relatives or the nursing staff.
    Its a shame you didnt interview Sodexo, one of the prominent snouts in this outsourced NHS trough

  32. Hello, I was rather intrigued by your programme and felt compelled to send you a comment.

    I suffer from functional attacks of quadriplegia -basically have no use of any limb. My recent stay in hospital, only brief, was pretty poor. I can't really comment on the food as I wasn't offered a meal nor did I receive any care at all. Even the basic need of toilet duties was a big issue, no nursing staff was available to assist nor provide my wife with a urinal so that she could assist me.

    To be honest I'd rather have been left in a street, maybe I would have been offered a little more care from a compassionate bystander.

  33. Wayne... I do understand. I faced some shoddy care and nursing when I came out of ICU. It is indescribable to be left totally helpless without any assistance for your most basic needs. It's beyond disgraceful.

  34. Just watching your programme now online...I wish I could say I was shocked, but having spent way too long in and out of hospital, unfortunately I am not.
    The first time I was admitted to hospital I was 16. I went in weighing 8.5 stone - perfect for my height. After 8 days in hospital I went home and weighed myself - I had lost over half a stone, as the food was so poor. When you are ill, you need to eat well, to fight your illness.
    I have, unfortunately, been admitted over 20 times since then, and had 7 operations. I have allergies, proper allergies, diagnosed by allergy consultants within the NHS. Yet I have so much trouble getting food I can actually eat when in hospital. For example I cannot eat dairy produce, yet I have lost count of the amount of times I have had a meal placed in front of me that contains milk, or cream, or cheese. Do you know how awful it is to be stuck in a hospital bed, so hungry, a meal tray is placed in front of you...and then you cannot eat it as it contains something you are allergic to...despite having met with a dietician earlier in the day, or week?
    Last time I was in hospital I had just had bowel surgery, and had requested a meal be sent that fitted my dietary requirements. I was horrified to be offered a spicy curry. I don't want to just be whining on and on, but spicy curry a few hours after bowel surgery???
    Worst of all, on more than one occasion friends or relatives have brought me a meal, only to have it confiscated by staff due to "health and safety" regulations.
    It is enough to send you crazy.
    If I have a planned admission I now try to feed myself up beforehand, and ask visitors to get a chair and wheel me to the canteen. It is not unknown for me to arrange for friends to come and meet me, take me for a "Walk" in a chair, so that I can go and sit in their car with a sandwich, or a thermos of soup.
    Yet apart from the food issue my care has always been fantastic. such a shame that the food is the weak link, when it is such an important factor.
    keep up the work

    ps, following your programme I am going to see if my local hospital lets volunteers help with elderly and vulnerable patient feeding, and see if I can volunteer one meal time a week

  35. haha, just made me remember when my "meal", when I lifted the metal plate cover, was....3 overly cooked sprouts.
    3 sprouts. for a main meal. terrible

  36. Having recently come out of a hospital in Dorset, after spending five days there, all I can say is thank you. I was seriously wondering if it was just me but I found the food disgusting (wish I had thought to take pictures). While the nursing care was great I was horrified at what we were served. Breakfast was the only half decent meal of the day as there is only so much you can do to cereal and toast. On my first night I was served chicken supreme, I had a piece of what I can only suppose was chicken that was about the size of a ten pence piece sitting in what looked like glue, you know the sort you can make from boiling up flour and water. It did have mushrooms in it, three slices, so thin that they disintegrated when you touched them. I won’t mention the vegetables but suffice to say they were just as insipid in colour and taste. No vegetable should ever have been put through what those peas must have suffered. I put this down to a one off bad choice on my part but after the second days serving of fish in bread crumbs that was so dry and grey that it was impossible to eat without gagging I gave up and thought I would try baked potatoes, big mistake, dry and hard as bullets. Sandwiches were not much better the bread was dry and curling by the time it got to me. The salad I had was appealing in that the lettuce and tomatoes were a welcome splash of colour but even crisp salad is unappealing without any dressing and unfortunate what went with it was not so appetising or edible. In the end I had to get my mother to bring in sandwiches for me.

    I am a diabetic and was admitted with a suspected abscess/diviticulitus in the colon so what I ate was important to my health. While I accept that we are in hospital for treatment not for the culinary offerings of the kitchen, food is an important part of maintaining health and speeding recovery, not to mention that it is important to the moral of patients whose highlight of an otherwise frustrating day is mealtime. Thank god I was only in for five days. The NHS has to wakeup to the fact that drugs are only part of the treatment process and that good healthy appetising food is important for mind, body and sole. If schools have managed to turn their meals around why can’t the NHS?

    However, when you consider the limited health care available to some in the third world you realise how incredibly lucky we are to have access to a National Health Service.

  37. What a great programme. I really hope your campaign brings about some much needed improvements. If I was in hospital I would be prepared to pay the equivalent of what I would spend at home towards my food if it meant getting something decent.

  38. Thank you SO much for raising this issue.
    As a student nurse, working across two trusts, (one which cooks fresh on the premises and serves the same food in the staff canteen, and the other which microwaves everything at ward level)its always been a hot topic between my peers. And you highlghted it so well.
    Although a lot fo the nursing staff can see there is definate need for change, there is nothing we can do within our power to change it does need to come from a national level.

    Also thank you for not berateing the nursing staff too much, bceuase in my short time in nursing i have never seen a patient go unfed, but i do know it can so easily happen which is awful. but there are plenty of fantastic nurses and health care assistants out there who are all behind you!

  39. I caught up with your programme last night from 4 On Demand (followed by Heston's Misson Impossible to try and improve the food at Alder Hey Children's Hospital).

    Incredibly thought provoking.

    Not having been hospitalised myself for years, nor having had to visit anyone in hospital I was unaware of the current sorry state of contracted-out catering in NHS hospitals.

    I am due to have an operation later this year and for me it won't matter so much if the food is somewhat lacking as the operation I am going in for is a gastric bypass.

    (Before any anonymous haters have a go at me for having a gastric bypass on the NHS the private medical cover that I *also* pay for will not pay for the operation, so the NHS is the only option and as I have paid full tax and NI for 25 years I have contributed.)

    But for thousands of other patients who do need calorie rich, nutritionally balanced meals that are appetising to eat, the choice appears to be extremely poor.

    Let's hope your programme and the campaign begins to change things for the better.

  40. I read your blog practically from Day 1, and always felt you would be an ideal champion. The programme was excellent

  41. Hiya, i work as a HCA and am shocked at the way the food is served up!!!!! Lots of bland and white food. Patients have a choice of lots of menus, but all of these meals are microwaved to death!!!!!

    They get freshly cooked porridge at breakfast. That is the only food which is freshly cooked.

    The other problem we have is the portion sizes, you can only order small or regular, not large!!! Now some growing men wish they could have large portions.

    They also give patients the cheapest bread ever, it is dry and nasty to taste.

    Thing is its the nurses and myself who get the complaints about the food, because we are the ones which serve it to the patients.

  42. I am 100% behind this campaign! Last March my husband was rushed to our local hospital. He was very ill and at first the staff did not know what was actually wrong with him and as he had chronic sickness and diohorea he was put into isolation whilst some tests were run to make sure he wasn't contagious! 72 hours later he was moved to a ward. During that 72 hour stint he was offered a jug of water and a slice of toast. The reason given for this was that it was an assessment/observation unit and not an actual ward (this is attached to the A&E department) so meals could not be ordered. To be fair my husband was not in a position to eat anything at this point anyway. Once he was put on a ward he was told to order his meals, he was told that even if he didn't want the food to order it anyway as it could be offered to someone else! He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and was in a pretty bad way. The 10 days he spent in hospital he lost a stone in weight. He was given prescribed build up drinks but nothing was mentioned to him when ordering food, no nutritional advice was given, bearing in mind during a flare up to this extent relies on diet to achieve/maintain weight gain and recovery. We were in financial diffulculty during this time and this hopital stay incurred an additional £100 from the non existant budget we had. I had to not pay bills to actually buy food to take in to my sick husband. We are still in hardship due to this unexpected cost. We are now enduring the same problem now as our son has some health issues and is in and out of hospitals. I must admit though that I have witnessed the food from 3 hospitals in my local area and the variation is astounding! The food on the childrens ward was a lot better than I'd anticipated however I would not like to have had my son on hat kind of diet for any length of time, it was a heated trolley offering fish, chicken, pasta, vegetables (recognizable) and chips at each min meal time. Kids are most likely to go for chips every time! I was offered cottage pie with vegetables which I graciously accepted as I'd not eaten for 24 hours by that time and although I was really hungry, it really was very nice. Another hospital, again a childrens ward offered a vast range of breakfast cereals, yoghurt and fruit, lunch was a coice of pasta or sandwiches and friut or yoghurt for dessert and evening meals were pretty much like he pics on your blog! How does it go so wrong?! This matter needs to be addressed and I will back this campaign all the way then I'm tackling the schools again! Come on Jamie Oliver your campaign has gone cold time to heat it up.

  43. Thank you, Mark. I've sent you an e-mail with extracts from my ongoing formal complaint against the hospital where I spent a week in December 2009, in which I have also, amongst other things, raised the issue of the completely inedible food.
    Lumps of fat in thick, congealed gravy, anyone? How about lumps of fat in thick gravy when, like the lady in the bed next to mine, you are dying of stomach cancer, are already both hungry and nauseous, were told yesterday you were not to eat anything at all, but are now suddenly and inexplicably told no, someone's changed their mind and you MUST eat this? No wonder she was sick.
    Or how about breakfast consisting of a cup of tea and one of those slices of cardboard sponge cake in a plastic wrapper? And how about having to beg repeatedly for every little glass of water (a grand total of 3 in 24 hours)? God alone knows how we were supposed to recover.

  44. Just watched the dispatches program and i know exactly how you felt after a decent meal in that hospital.
    I had major surgery when i was 36 and the hospital food back in 96 was so good in the UHW that I could physically and mentally feel what it did for my reovery.

    Compare that to a few months ago where a heart attack meant i had to go in again,only to find the food they put in front of me was so bad i went without a decent meal for 4 days.

    The medical treatment at the UHW and staff are second to none,but the food ?,what the hell happened ?.
    the word they used when i asked was "outsourced"

  45. I have just watched your programme on the food being served in the NHS and I couldn’t agree more that something has to be done. I’ve been on the receiving end of that food due to being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease as a child and even at a young age, I knew better than to eat the rubbish put down in front of me. Although thankfully my condition doesn’t particularly bother me anymore, i’ve went full circle and unfortunately i’m now the person dishing out this disgusting food to my patients. I’m a student mental health nurse and the standard of food being served to NHS patients is appalling. Not only have I experienced having to serve this food to patients who are in hospital on a short term basis but i’ve had to serve it to people who have been eating this food for years because they’ve been in the system so long.
    One part of your programme which got to me was the hospital area that was actually inviting staff to try some of the food being provided. Feeding people is something that I do on a regular basis and if the smell of that food turns my stomach, I can’t imagine what it tastes like to the person i’m giving it to! I absolutely love my job and can’t wait to get my first post as a staff nurse but as a nurse i’m meant to provide the best quality of holistic care that I can, how is that possible when we’re faced with challenges like this? To me, my patient’s dietary intake is just as important as anything else highlighted in their care plan. Madness! Although i’ve always recognised there was a problem with the standard of food being served in hospitals, your programme certainly gave me something to think about. Thank you.