Every morning this week, we’ve been making a brew and sitting down to watch BBC1’s Operation Hospital Food with James Martin, and been hooked on the challenges currently being faced within the Catering Departments of the NHS.
At the beginning of the week, James was introduced to the Catering team within the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. With morale low and the threat of job losses James not only had the challenge of improving food, but to get the support and buy in of the kitchen staff.
It soon became apparent the mistakes that were being made, with James being shocked that 40% of the food going out of the kitchen was being returned untouched and a total waste. The root of this was, not only were the catering staff unaware of the numbers they were catering for, but that each dish was made without following a recipe to follow.
A recipe solves a number of problems… How much of each ingredient you need, how many portions you can make, how much each portion will cost and how much stock you should order. So there it was, one word, RECIPE. The team were tasked with writing down every single recipe they used within the kitchen and using the recipe book as a their bible.
The next problem was that the team didn’t know how much of each dish they should make. Lack of communication between the ward staff and the kitchen meant it was all guess work. James’ solution – an effective patient ordering system.
Now as you can imagine this was very frustrating for us to watch as THIS IS WHAT WE DO!! Recipe, Menu and Stock Management along with Nutritional Analysis and Patient Ordering Systems are our game, JAMES! An effective Patient Ordering System can reduce wastage to just 9% as James proved when he visited Neville Hall Hospital. We have implemented our system into many NHS Catering Departments and have to say that the operation shown within the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital isn’t typical of every Catering Operation in hospitals.
The programme came at a great time as we were attending the Hospital Caterers Association Study Day on 28th February where we knew this topic would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, either agreeing with the findings or strongly disagreeing. It was discussed that the outcome James was hoping for would be one that everyone agreed on – everybody wants good nutritional food served throughout the NHS, FACT. How this is implemented unfortunately is not a blanket scheme throughout the thousands of very different hospitals in the UK. What may be a great scheme in a hospital that only has 100 patients will not necessarily work in a hospital that has 1000.
What will work in hospitals of all sizes however, is the sort of structure that James brought into the Royal Birmingham Hospital Kitchen, an effective Patient Ordering System, Recipes, Menus, Stock management and Nutritional Analysis and that can be done easily by the hospitals themselves. We have supported many hospitals throughout the UK and internationally, in implementing a system that will help them reduce wastage and costs whilst also being able to provide patients with the nutrition they need to help them get back on the mend.
It’s quite clear from the feedback from Operation Hospital Food that we’re all eager for the same outcome, is it time to revisit your catering operation and see what changes you could make no matter how big or small that could improve patient experience and save money? There’s always more that can be done, right? We’ve asked James to have a chat with us as we’d love to support him in his challenges – we’re yet to hear back from him…..