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Hospital food around UK

valleysangel92

Moderator
Staff member
I can easily believe this. When I was in hospital in England they gave me backed Berne which almost always have gluten in them when I'm highly intolerant - makes my lips swell! And the hospital I'm under in Wales almost always messes my order up, runs out or the food is cold... when in from my surgery I got bread rolls that were still in the packaging, they were meant to be cooked first! I asked for a chicken sandwich and got a salad with unbuttered dry bread... My surgeon told me to get my family to bring in whatever I wanted, even if it was really unhealthy!
 
A friend of mine told me that her dad was given food containing gluten despite him having Coeliac disease, and to top it off the dietitian he was under told him that it was fine for him to eat it. Shocking!

I was in Addenbrooke's recently and I only had one meal, which was gluten free rice snaps and rice milk for breakfast, and it was fine (though admittedly there's not much to get wrong). They also had a booklet of additional foods you could select for different types of diet. Given that I'm on an elimination diet and can only eat a handful of foods my choices were very limited but there were a few things I'd have been able to eat if I'd have been allowed.

I've been in 3 different hospitals, the first my food was actually quite nice, the second the food was dreadful and the third was Addenbrookes where I only had the one breakfast and then I was on liquids only. I think there's a lot of variation in the quality of food between different hospitals. There really aught to be minimum standards for hospital food, and much more care towards people who are on special diets, whether for medical or non-medical reasons.
 
What I find very frustrating is that hospital cafeteria food for staff/visitors is usually a lot better quality than what goes around to the wards. I think it should all be the same and not down to food that is paid for and food that you have when you have to stay in the hospital.
When I was admitted a few years ago the food was awful on the ward I had fish for one meal that was grey/brown colour, cereal that was soggy and pasta that was a solid clump, the sandwiches were the only thing that was ok.
I hate moaning about the nhs because I think it is a wonderful thing and we are very lucky to have access to the treatments that many others can't afford or get but some things need to change.
 
I can only speak as I find. In October 2010 I spent a fortnight in St.Thomas' and then another 10 days there in June 2011. This was followed by just over a week in my local, East Surrey, Hospital in June 2012.

During each of these stays the hospital food, whilst not cordon bleu, was appetising, served in decent sized portions and piping hot. There was always a ready supply of snacks made available throughout the day and evening. The only time I had reason to turn down a meal was when I had been home for the day and returned to the ward in time for the evening meal which had been out to one side for me. The prospect of eating a large portion of backed Berne, sorry I mean baked beans, seemed unwise so on that occasion I had a sandwich instead.

(I did also spend a while in Croydon General Hospital 1978/79 and the meals then were grim!)

I've seen some of the photographs that have been published over the last day or so and they don't look good but food doesn't always photograph well. I can think of ready meals I have bought from the likes of Waitrose that look fantastic in the carefully set up photo on the packaging but reality is somewhat less flattering.

So that's my experience. Maybe I have just been lucky on the above occasions as I was in the specialist gastro ward where they realised the importance of getting their patients to eat.
 

rygon

Moderator
Ive got to say the food I had in grimsby wasnt too bad at all. I enjoyed most of them, and the ones that were ok was not because it was a bad menu, but was overcooked unfortunately. They also had different menus for different conditions (ie low iron levels, low fibre etc).
 
This is what my daughter got given in Swindon! Have no idea what it was and needless to say I took her food up daily. She too was diagnosed with coeliac disease and the choices were shocking and pretty grim.
 

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I hate hospital food here in UK! It is never tasty, the right temperature and sometimes not even the right order... I can't even just have dessert as the ice cream is warm and melted :/
 

emmaaaargh

Moderator
Staff member
I spent about a week in King's College Hospital after being admitted immediately after a scope for IV steroids. The food was... well, there are much worse out there, but there are also a lot better! Even with my pred-induced munchies I begged my parents to take me with them to the visitor/staff café in the morning where we could have a decent breakfast. They brought me sandwiches for lunch, too, and while I couldn't have them bring me a fully-fledged dinner, we did make loads of trips to get sandwiches and cake.

Long story short - you're right, it is awful! I wish more was being done about it. Sure, it probably can't be five-star hotel quality, but good food is one of the key components to being healthy - and surely what they serve us is anything but.
 

UnXmas

Banned
I hate awful hospital food. For one thing, they give you an option to select the portion size you want when you choose your meals from the menu. I always say I want a small portion, and then I still get given a massive plate of food. I know that logically I should just eat a little of it, but I find having a huge plate of food in front of me so off-putting that I don't want to eat it at all.

When I'd had my colon removed, they gave me strict instructions about eating a low fibre diet for awhile, and a list of certain foods to avoid, including cauliflower and green beans. So what do I get given the day after my operation? Cauliflower cheese and green beans. :yrolleyes: (I'd still been unconscious when they brought the menus round, so some staff member had chosen for me.)

When a gastroenterologist had told me to do a trial with no dairy or gluten, I was given foods containing gluten and dairy, and the nurse told me they were gluten and dairy free.

I'm not surprised that an independent survey found that things were much worse than the hospitals/NHS had claimed - the NHS is notorious for dodgy self-assessments, hiding problems and intimidating whistle blowers.

The worst thing about hospital meals? That they somehow don't seem to grasp how you could have a problem with trying to eat your lunch when the patient next to you is vomiting everywhere, some doctor is discussing the gory details of an operation with another, and a nurse interrupts your meals to stick a needle in your arm and draw a load of blood.

When I go in for my next surgery I'm planning on existing on Fortisip and Ensure, and I don't care how awful I feel or how many drips I'm attached to - I'm going outside to drink them!
 

UnXmas

Banned
I've seen some of the photographs that have been published over the last day or so and they don't look good but food doesn't always photograph well. I can think of ready meals I have bought from the likes of Waitrose that look fantastic in the carefully set up photo on the packaging but reality is somewhat less flattering.

So that's my experience. Maybe I have just been lucky on the above occasions as I was in the specialist gastro ward where they realised the importance of getting their patients to eat.
I think the look of food is important in hospital - a lot of patients need to eat more but feel too sick to. Food that looks awful discourages patients from eating it even more. I've usually been on gastro wards - the food sucked and they couldn't manage to cater to special dietary needs. There were always special items on the menu - vegetarian, "soft" food, etc. but what ended up being brought often varied a lot from what patients had selected. I think it just varies a lot from hospital to hospital.

I was also just remembering when the day after a major operation, I was trying to eat a bowl of cornflakes. Every time I tried to sit up to reach for the bowl, the pain got so bad that I couldn't manage it. Then they came and took the bowl away, untouched, and I'd missed my breakfast because I couldn't reach to get it! It was fine for me because I could speak up for myself (i.e. I sent my mum down to the shop for snacks when she came in to see me), and the pain eased quickly enough that I only had that issue on the first day. But if I'd been a confused patient, or one without family coming to assist me, and the pain had lasted long term I could probably have starved before any staff members noticed a problem.

I've also had occasions where I've had to help other patients reach their food and drinks because the nurses, although almost always well-meaning, were just to busy to help patients eat and drink, especially those who need help through the whole meal (e.g. I've seen people whose hands shake so bad they can't get a spoonful of food or a cup of drink to their mouths without spilling it all). I don't really like having to act as a nurse when I'm recovering from surgery, but pointing out the problems to the nurses was no good as they really did not have time.
 
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