A couple of weeks back The GOS wrote about Mrs.GOS's stay in Ipswich Hospital. Among other things, he wrote "The food was dreadful, and came in remarkably small quantities. Nothing was fresh, everything was overcooked, salad appeared only once in the week so far as we could see, and when one of the dinner-ladies heard that The GOS was cooking meals and taking them in every evening, her response was "I don't blame you". One evening he was walking down the corridor just as one of the ladies opened up the hatches of the dinner-trolley. Her cry of "Oh my good God!" didn't inspire confidence."
A bit of a coincidence, then (though not exactly surprising) to find this article by Michele Hanson in The Guardian …
Patients leave hospital half-starved and the NHS is chucking food in the bin
How lucky we are to have meals provided in hospitals. In some countries all you get is your treatment and the bed, and your family has to traipse in with your dinners. Bad luck if you don't have a family. But bad luck over here as well if you don't have a family, because droves of NHS patients are leaving hospital with malnutrition, particularly the elderly. Yes they get their dinners, but the food is either too ghastly to eat, or they can't feed themselves.
Nothing new in that; it has been going on for years. The bad news is that it's getting worse. The number of people leaving hospital starving has gone up by two-thirds and 13m meals worth £162m have been thrown away over the past five years. Why bother to provide food in the first place if no one can eat it?
I had to slog into hospital with snacks for my mother, to make sure that something went into her mouth, otherwise she too may have pegged out from malnutrition. True, my mother was a fusspot over her food, it takes a lot of time and patience to feed a sick and grumpy person and the nurses are run off their feet, but it has to be done by someone, because when one is poorly, the most important thing to do is eat properly and get your strength back. You need lots of lovely chicken soup, or broths, or soothing rice pudding, or jellies for sore throats, tempting morsels to perk up the jaded appetite. If every parent or grown-up knows this, why doesn't the NHS?
Luckily, my mother was in hospital just up the road, so I could nip backwards and forwards, supervising her food and drink intake, and - even better - she was forthright. To be properly fed in hospital you need to speak your mind and have a bossy daughter or friend around to back you up. If you're on your own, heaven help you. And it's no good being too meek, polite and sensitive. Rosemary's aunt was in hospital with an injured arm; she couldn't stretch it out, reach her food or get it into her mouth, but she was much too polite to bother the nurses. Rosemary was worried she might starve to death, but she couldn't feed Auntie, because she and all the other visitors thought Auntie didn't want to be spoonfed.
"It's too humiliating," said Rosemary, and wouldn't spoon in the dinner. The nurses didn't have time, and if they asked Auntie why she'd eaten practically nothing, she would say very politely that she'd had quite enough, thank you. Auntie made it home. Just.
So it's not always the hospital's fault. And on an up note, not all of the food is bad. I know because I finished my mother's hospital dinners off, and the kosher meals were even better. You can always pretend to be Jewish.
Better still, the NHS could perhaps cut down on administrators and pay proper dinner ladies instead, who would have time to sit down next to people for five minutes, chat to them and help them to eat and drink, save their lives and save all that money on wasted dinners.
The GOS says: Mrs.GOS's recent hospital visit was on the NHS, and trust me, the food was poor and helpings were small.
A couple of years ago, though, she stayed in another ward of the same hospital as a private patient. Was the food much better?
Of course it bl**dy was, what do you think?
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