"Food and care at Freeman Hospital"

About: Freeman Hospital

(as a relative),

Food at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle is appalling in my opinion; it lacks quality and quantity, and is not appealing.

We all know that good nutrition is important to maintaining health, and even more so in people with illnesses. I think the variety and what is offered needs to be looked at. Sandwiches on two days were exactly the same. There were no snacks available for patients apart from biscuits. Patients often rely on friends and family visiting bring food to supplement the meagre hospital diet.

My mother has been a patient on NCCC at the Freeman Hospital all we can say that the Ward 35 under the management of Sister Angela Simpson and Sister Nicola Cosford the standard of care is outstanding friendly and approachable, the auxiliaries always have time the patients and visitors. The housekeeping team keep the ward spotless and chat patients bicycle around their work.

I think patient line is exorbitantly expensive, should bring back the dayrooms on wards, vending machines were drinks, or some kind of machine so that patients can make the all drinks if you want another. Need I say more?

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Response from The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments on Patient Opinion about your mother’s stay in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital.

Firstly, thank you for your very positive feedback regarding the standard of care, staff and cleanliness on ward 35. Your comments have been forwarded to the Matron and her team who are greatly encouraged by your kind remarks.

With regard to your comments about the food and nutrition – we are very sorry to hear that you feel the standard of food was not as it should be. Please be assured that the Trust fully understands and supports the role that food and nutrition play in the recovery and wellbeing of patients. We have a Nutritional Steering Group whose work is to continuously review all issues related to food and nutrition in hospital. In December 2012, we introduced a new adult patient menu and, throughout its development, the Group sought the views of patients, staff and Governors. The new menu encourages patients to choose at least one hot meal per day by listing the same sandwich fillings for lunch and dinner. Indeed, this has proven to be successful and has achieved a better balanced diet for the majority of patients throughout the Trust.

Our catering managers undertake regular food tasting sessions with service user representatives to continually review the quality of food on offer to patients. As well as these sessions, we always welcome and listen to feedback about our services. As such, in light of your comments regarding snack availability, the Matron for Cancer Service is now liaising with the catering manager to review and improve the availability of snacks on the inpatient wards in her area. During our detailed menu review last year, it was decided to remove the choice of snacks from the standard menu due to the volume of wastage previously encountered but we will review this decision further to your feedback. Please also be aware that staff on the wards do have access to snack boxes should a patient miss their main meal for any reason and the catering department can accommodate patients with specific dietary needs should the need arise. Our staff also have the facility to refer patients to the dietetics team for further assessment or support if required.

With regard to the availability of hot drinks, patients are currently offered six hot drinks per day. They can also ask the ward staff at any time throughout the day if they would like additional drinks. Staff will be reminded to encourage patients to ask if they would like drinks at other times of the day.

With regard to the bedside TV/telephone system, the Trust is required to provide these systems for patients to use if they choose to. The system within the inpatient wards at the Freeman is provided by a company called Hospedia. Unfortunately, their pricing mechanism is not within the control of the Trust but some concessions are available to certain groups of patients. Literature is available around the hospital (at the payment machines) to explain the pricing or you can call the Hospedia operator for further details. You can also find more details about the company on the Hospedia website (www.hosepdia.co.uk). Please note that some wards do still have televisions in the patients day room, ward 35 is one such ward with a television in both the small and large day rooms for patients to use at no cost.