THESE are tasty times at a hospital in Hartlepool.
A system of bringing in mouth-watering meals in a swifter fashion has been introduced by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
It offers highly nutritious meals to patients within minutes of their request.
Health bosses say the new scheme is already paying dividends.
Foundation trust members and governors got the chance to talk to head of catering Colin Chapman and try out the process which is being put to the test on the emergency assessment unit. It uses less energy in comparison to conventional kitchen systems, reduces waste, ensures food temperatures are correct and offers a wide variety of nutritious meals.
Associate director of operations Peter Mitchell said: “The catering service is working well, but we’re continually looking to improve it and trying out new systems like this one will help us do just that.”
A number of improvements are being made in the catering section and Peter explained more.
“The ward hostess service we provide has made a big difference to the patients in comparison the old system. We have received some really positive comments from the patients.
“We’re serving food on the wards rather than plating it up in the kitchen.
“The ward hostesses help the patients to choose from the menu and make sure they get the food they want at the right temperature and on time. It allows the ward hostess staff to take specific requests and frees up valuable nursing time.”
Colin said: “We are trialling it on the emergency assessment unit at both sites and we have got it on two surgical wards at Hartlepool.
“We are looking at it so that if we have a quick turnover where patients can be moved in a shorter period, this is so that we can provide them with a nutritious meal to meet their needs.
“They may only be there for four to six hours so we are making sure that they get a nice meal while they are there and that is really important.”
Peter said: “We’ve recently extended the hostess service, offering meal ordering two hours before service and we’re seeing a significant improvement in patient satisfaction and reduced waste.
“Patients are being offered a wider range of main meals, hot breakfasts, snacks and light bites out of hours. We cater for cultural and religious needs as well as for patients who need special meals because they have difficulties with swallowing, for example.
“Getting the right meals that satisfy a patient’s nutritional needs, as well as their taste, is important in helping them to make a quicker recovery.”
Meanwhile, the Trust is on the lookout for people to become a member.
To become a member of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust today, sign up at www.nth.nhs.uk/joinustoday