Our NHS – Hospital Food # 6

Another really important aspect of illness & recovery, is a well balanced & nutritious diet. This can be a real challenge for people who don’t feel that great & the last thing on their mind is food, so it’s important that it is appetising, manageable & edible.

Now there is of course a massive difference between catering for the nuclear family at home, dining out in a reasonably sized restaurant & feeding 1000 + patients & 4000 + staff. It’s a big ask & certainly not one I would want to have to try & achieve and heartily salute those who do their best every day!

I would love to be able to tell you that I enjoyed the food & ate well while I was in, but I’m afraid I would be lying. I passed on the “evening” meal I was offered around 5.30 on the day I went in: we don’t eat our main meal of the day that early at home (good grief I often haven’t finished work by then!) A quick inhalation & visual check of what was on offer confirmed my decision to nicely decline. 

I know that mince & sausages are economical (to put it politely) & I’m also very aware that not everyone can afford to or may choose not to eat food of a slightly higher quality (putting it diplomatically). minions-despicable-me-2-wallpaper







But the proferrings really were pretty dismal.

As I was yet to be on enforced bed rest, I popped out to the atrium where the coffee shops, newsagents etc. were, but most were closed already & the best I managed to find was a StellarYuck’s & grabbed myself a sausage bap (it was either this or cake). I enjoyed my feast alfresco as it was a nice enough evening & the hospital grounds have a lovely restful water feature. 


Anyway, I still had four more delicious Pre-Op drinks to consume before surgery the next day!! Lucky Me.

Here’s another of those irritating Health & Safety “rules”, apparently wards are no longer allowed to keep sandwiches in the fridge for late arrivals, post-op patients, or people who are used to eating later, and yet interestingly staff are allowed to put their lunch etc in the fridge for later.  I agree it isn’t a great plan to pull some festering greeny black slimy thing that might have been a sandwich in it’s youth from the back of the ward fridge & offer it to a patient, but come on !

This seems to me like another crazy rule: all the literature you are given tells you that it is important to eat a well balanced diet in the run up to & post surgery… The only thing apologetically offered to me before I turned in for the night was a bowl of cereal & some toast. Hmm

Anyway, thank goodness for cookies & fresh fruit chunked up provided by Ice Cream Sundae meant I didn’t starve post-operatively because I just couldn’t face the “quiche” I had ordered. In the name of all that’s holy, I have never before & hope never again, to be offered an over-cooked red piece of rubbery egg on top of soggy pastry on a hot plate with salad on it! Whatever it was, it wasn’t quiche… on further reflection I think it might have been wedges of 20 year old pub carpet.


Just as an aside, what is it about hospital food that makes it particularly repellant? You could be forgiven sometimes for thinking that they are making use of surgical waste. 


As for  the plain cooked fish,  it’s a very tired old joke amongst hospital staff when they realise as they walk towards the canteen that this is on the menu: “either it’s fish for lunch or the Urology ward has a lot of UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections) at the moment.” This dish has all the aromatic charms of Killybeg’s Fish Canning factory when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.



The best “food” I had while I was in St Trinians was the really beautiful porridge, but you can only get it at breakfast time so that’s a bit of a bummer really…

I was obviously devastated when after my chosen  lunch of toast & all – bran flakes with more fresh fruit chunks on, I was discharged home just as my leather-jacket potato with suspicious looking warm mince arrived. What a pity.

Another good reason for escaping as soon as you can as far as I’m concerned. I like to finish on a positive note when I can & in 2013 Darlington Memorial Hospital picked up an Award for its hospital food, so you see, it is doable!

Holly :0)

Post Script: I remember now being advised by a patient in the past whose illness dictated long-hospital stays to try the following approaches to hospital food:

  1. Order either Kosher or Halal meals as it is generally more edible.
  2. Make friends with the night staff so that when they send out for takeaway you can share it for a small monetary consideration.
  3. Whenever possible & your condition allows go to the staff restaurant for meals: you will have to pay, but again the food is generally superior. * Our own main hospital does such a fabulous Christmas lunch the people come from miles around & you have to book a place on one of three sittings over the consecutive four days it is on (honestly!)

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