Tuesday, 15 March 2011

That's one way to make them take notice

A patient who took controversial hospital caterers to court has won a £200 compensation payment. Michael Cooper branded Medirest’s meals a “disgrace” and said he would not have fed them to pigs after a 14-day stay in Southampton General Hospital. Instead he defied the pain from a knee operation to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the canteen racking up a £200 bill. When Mr Cooper left hospital he asked Medirest to reimburse him but the firm refused.

So the 59-year-old from Millbrook launched a county court case and won a legal judgement ordering the contract catering company to pay him back the money. Now Mr Cooper hopes other unhappy hospital diners will follow his lead and force catering and health bosses to take action to improve the food. But Medirest bosses dispute Mr Cooper’s claims and say they did not defend the case because “the relevant personnel” did not receive the court papers until after the deadline for response – despite Mr Cooper delivering them by hand a fortnight earlier.

Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust (SUHT) awarded private company, Medirest, the five-year £17m contract in 2009, to supply meals that are pre-prepared in St Albans, Hertfordshire and then steamed in microwaves in ward kitchens. Hospital bosses insisted that a four-week action plan early last year had improved standards. But disgusted at the food offered to him in October, retired lorry driver Mr Cooper made the trip down to the canteen every mealtime.

Mr Cooper, who is due to return to hospital for another operation in 12 weeks, said: “If I had pigs I wouldn’t even feed them the hospital food I was given. I would have rather starved than eat anything they served up for me. It is a disgrace.

“I’m not looking forward to going in again but I have told my wife to get the rolls and sandwiches ready because I will not eat what they have to offer.”

After serving the Southampton County Court papers to Medirest himself last month, the company failed to respond. Now the court has ordered the company to pay Mr Cooper the full £200 he had claimed.

Mr Cooper  said: “I hope I have started something here and that other people might follow in my footsteps. If Medirest gets a flurry of people claiming against them I am sure they will be forced to take action.”

Medirest claims that the latest survey revealed more than 70 per cent of patients were very satisfied with the food. A spokesman said: “We dispute Mr Cooper’s claim and had the relevant Medirest personnel been aware of the claim being issued we would have taken the necessary steps to defend this. However, on the basis that the judgement has been entered we will abide by the court’s decision in this particular case.”

© Southern Daily Echo


  1. Just read the article in The Mail


    Maybe you should send someone an invoice Mark :o)

  2. James May for PM16 March 2011 at 09:56

    Hey TM
    Just as i was thinking everytime i post a reply the thread comes to an end you prove me wrong!.
    By the way SGH has a Burger King in the entrance hall you can't miss it it's just past the coffee shop!.

  3. Yipeeeee... Its about time someone stood up the the so called catering companies that supply the slop to hospital patients.
    Schools are going the same way in some towns, what is wrong with these people?
    May be we should force feed it to them, see how they feel afterwards... and the so called poll was probably filled in by there own staff members or invented to suit the situation.
    Good for Mr Cooper I realy do hope the public start fighting back, its not before time.

  4. i just watched your documentary and thought it was fantastic and just wanted to make a general comment.
    privatising is not the way forward - that's why the female minister on the show said she could not do anything about the problem because gps already run as a private company. privatising only benefits the shareholders and not the public.
    what every hospital needs is a kitchen and a cook & that includes puree food. puree food does not need to be specially bought in or anything, it is just the same as any other meal but put in a blender and presented nicely.
    also what is with the terminology of the staff? feeding - what r we horses. one is assisting one with a meal.
    also what were the patients/clients wearing when they were having there meals? why can't people have nice cloth napkins that tuck into their shirt and that can also rest on one's lap like you would get if you went out for a decent meal. until these old fashioned ways of thinking r changed then behaviour won't.
    i had to get out of the care industry here because i was so appalled of the quality of care.
    i wish u luck with campaign.

  5. I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.

  6. you may be interested to know that Medirest took an NHS Trust to court last year after its contract was terminated. The Judge said that the Trust had not managed the contract properly by making large deductions for performance failure. The Trust appealed and won. Court of appeal judgement on this link: