The Royal Oldham praised on prime time TV by celebrity chef

Royal Oldham praised
The Royal Oldham praised on prime time TV by celebrity chef
18 March 2014

An exciting new menu devised for children receiving care and treatment at The Royal Oldham Hospital has been given high praise from celebrity chef, James Martin.

James Martin, who fronts the BBC1 television programmes Saturday Kitchen and the Operation Hospital Food series, feels passionately about the quality and variety of food served in hospitals to patients.

His programme Operation Hospital Food, which starts it new series on Monday 24th February, looks to work with hospital catering departments up and down the country to deliver the best food possible, whilst working within budgets.  James believes that patients deserve healthy, nutritious meals while they are at their most vulnerable.

The Royal Oldham Hospital’s catering staff were invited to take part in the latest series of the programme and has come out with glowing reports from James.

Stephen Lowe, catering services manager at The Royal Oldham Hospital said: 

“James spent time looking at our present catering service – what equipment we had, the ingredients we could access and our flexibility to adapt.  He met our chefs and visited our new children’s ward to speak to the children, parents and ward staff in order to understand their needs and look at the changes we had already implemented.”

With James’ help, new menus were designed in partnership with children, parents and the children’s ward staff, which incorporated the food items which children have asked for, allowing flexibility around individual choices at the point of food service.

Stephen continued: “The new menu allows the children to choose their food at the catering station.  We have incorporated simple foods like pizza, chicken nuggets and fish fingers which use simple recipes and fresh basic ingredients.  There are also lots of dishes/components which can be made specifically for each child, such as pasta sauces which can be served with pasta, jacket potatoes, salad, or a mixture of all if they wish.  There are lots of interchangeable dishes which allow the children and their parents to make up their own meal at the point of service.  We basically want to give the children what they want, when they want it.”

In fact the whole mealtime scenario has a totally different feel for the children now.  Colourful crockery and cutlery has been bought for the children and they now also sit around a dining table for their meals to encourage social interaction.  They would previously eat their meals in their rooms or at their beds, but a new dining room has been set up for them, which incorporates dining tables and a salad bar.

The catering team, however, were delighted that James Martin made it clear that he was pleased to see that The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was already doing the things that he was trying to change in other Trusts.  Features such as a weekly menu, fresh homemade soups, using fresh ingredients cooked on site by skilled, passionate staff were praised by him and he was so impressed that he invited the catering team to present their new menu in London at The Royal College of Nursing.

James Martin said:

“I’m passionate about hospital food and I believe that patients deserve healthy, nutritious meals while they’re at their most vulnerable. Over the past four years, I’ve been working with hospital catering departments up and down the country to deliver the best food possible, while working within their budgets. My dream is that eventually poor hospital food will be a thing of the past. In this series, that campaign continues as I try and spread my vision for better patient food to every single hospital within the country.” 

He added: “People deserve decent food in the NHS. It’s not a big ask. So we’ve created an easy to use website that’s accessible to all.”

Pam Miller, associate director of facilities at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“The whole experience has improved communication between our nurses, dietitians and catering team; it has really motivated the chefs and provided the patients on the paediatric wards with dishes that they enjoy. When a child is ill it is really important to ensure that they are offered food choices that they enjoy to ensure that they recover as quickly as possible. The changes we’ve made at The Royal Oldham are soon to be rolled out to the children’s ward at North Manchester General Hospital and we are working closely with the ward team to ensure that the changes there are just as successful.”

Operation Hospital Food will be shown on BBC One at 9.15am for five days starting Monday 24th February 2014.

The website will go live in conjunction with transmission of the final programme on Friday 28th February at