MOVES to allow a top city chef to transform hospital meals have taken a step forward after a prominent MSP called for action.
Labour veteran Sarah Boyack urged health chiefs to take advantage of chef Mark Greenaway’s offer to overhaul hospital dishes, which comes after relatives of a patient complained about the standard of food being served at the Western General.
Patient groups said it was no good dishing up nutritional food if it looked so unpleasant that patients would not eat it.
Ms Boyack, Labour MSP for the Lothians, has written to Tim Davison, chief executive at NHS Lothian, urging the board to capitalise on Greenaway’s “expertise”.
She said: “A nutritious diet clearly has an important role to play in helping patients back to full health and the board has a responsibility to ensure this is the case. I am deeply concerned by reports of families feeling forced to bring in food because their loved ones dietary needs are not being met.
“Like other parts of NHS Lothian, catering services have to live with the financial reality facing the board. However, this cannot be at the expense of patients’ needs.
“I am pleased to see a top chef like Mark Greenaway responding to concerns over hospital food and, with a new catering strategy in development, I hope the board will consider reaching out to listen to different views. I would also encourage patients and their families to get in touch with their views so that the strategy reflects experiences across NHS Lothian facilities.”
The criticism of “terrible” meals came to light as a team of hospital chefs won a top food award at the inaugural NHS Good Food Challenge.
The menu included smoked mackerel pate with chilli and coriander oatcakes and Ayrshire pork stuffed with black pudding and haggis, potatoes and steamed vegetables. Each course was said to have been prepared on the same £1.50 budget as a meal at one of the city’s hospitals – but looked a far cry from the dishes tweeted by patients and their families.
Mr Greenaway said it was essential patients “fuelled up” with food to aid their recovery.
“I’ve been involved with hospital food one way or another for the last few years now,” he said. “There are clearly huge challenges with hospital food. I would love to help, not to make them look bad or expose anything – it’s purely to help.”
Dr Jean Turner, a former GP and executive director of Scotland Patients Association, said the board should work with patients and experts to ensure it was offering the best food possible.
“We’ve had complaints over the years about hospital food and met with bosses at the top. They do their best to improve it year on year but I do think they maybe need to look at it again.”
A spokesman for NHS Lothian said it prided itself on providing quality and nutritious food and was in the process of reviewing its menus.
He added: “NHS Lothian is in the process of creating a new catering strategy which will reflect the links between health and well-being.”