"Terrible gluten free food"

About: East Surrey Hospital / Cardiology

(as the patient),

I was in East Surrey Hospital (Holmwood ward) in July 2012, and whilst the staff couldn't have been any lovelier the food was disgusting!

I must have gluten free food and for the first 3 days I didn't have the required red menu, I had to use the usual white one.

The sandwiches were awful I wouldn't have fed them to the birds, the bread was very thick and dry even though the slices had been spread very thinly with margarine. The main meals where vegetables had been included, I found the vegetables so hard that I couldn't eat them, the salad was just a plateful of lettuce with three quarters of tomato and three very dried cucumber slices, the tinned meat was slimy, salty and completely inedible.

But I suppose that was an improvement on my last admission to hospital where I was given cornflour gravy over my hot food which was absolutely disgusting not only to look at but also to eat, which I didn't, I went hungry that day.

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Response from Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear Starryeyes

I am very sorry and concerned to learn about your experience with our food provision. Our Housekeepers are trained to ask the Catering department to provide special diet menu cards when they are made aware of patients with different dietary needs. I will be asking our Housekeeping Manager to investigate the reasons why our Housekeeper did not do this when you had made her aware of your needs.

Gluten free bread is made in our kitchen daily and is hand cut which may make it a little thicker than pre sliced loaves. Many of our gluten free patients comment on the bread mix we use and ask for details of the product as they tell us that it is difficult for them to source good gluten free bread. Our salads are also prepared daily but unfortunately other salad items given to patients on unrestricted diets may not always be suitable for your dietary needs. Our salad meats are never tinned and are sliced freshly each day when the salads are prepared. Gravy served to all our patients is a gluten free product. I’m not sure when you were last admitted but we have used this type of gravy certainly for the past 4 years as our Food and Beverage Manager was unhappy with the quality of the previous product.

We have worked hard to produce a comprehensive gluten free menu offering the same number of choices to patients with this condition as our patients with no restrictions and again I am really sorry that you felt your experience was not as you would wish. Either myself or our Food and Beverage Manager would be very happy to speak with you further if you feel that you would like to. I would also like to say that our Head Chefs are always happy to come to the ward and discuss any problems that patients are encountering to ensure that they receive the best possible experience.

Kind regards,

Carol Dixon,

Head of Patient Environment

Tel: 01737 768511 ext:1623; carol.dixon@sash.nhs.uk

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