Catering and Food for Patients

patient meal

On most wards meals are served for you to eat at your bedside. If you need any assistance, tell us when you arrive and we will ensure your meals are served on a red tray to help us identify patients who need assistance. Ward staff can then provide assistance or support from a trust volunteer. Tea, coffee and cold drinks are served during the day.

Breakfast - 7.30am  - 8.45am

Lunch - 12 noon - 1.00pm

Dinner - 5.00pm  - 6.00pm

About the meals

You are able to choose your meals from an extensive daily menu. We offer breakfast and provide a hot meal, salad or sandwich for lunch and dinner. Do not worry if you miss a meal as there is always food available.

Special diets are provided for health, religious and/or cultural reasons. Special diets are also provided for patients who need a therapeutic diet for medical reasons. Please inform the ward staff upon arrival if you have any dietary requirements.

Food allergies

It is important that you tell the ward staff if you are allergic to any foods. There is a ward booklet identifying any food items containing allergens and this is also available on the Trust intranet (ask a member of staff for help).

Bringing in your own food

We hope that our services will cater for all your needs, although it is recognised that visitors may wish to bring food and drinks for you to enjoy whilst you are in hospital. If one of your visitors arrive on the ward with perishable food items please contact a member of the nursing team who will ensure the food items are stored correctly and labelled with your name and the date received. Food items brought in should be consumed on the same day only.

Protected meal times

At the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, we believe that patients, wherever possible, should have time to eat their meals without unnecessary interruption and we provide assistance to those patients unable to eat independently.

The Protected Mealtimes Initiative (PMI) was a national initiative that formed part of the Better Hospital Food Programme. The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) published a review of protected mealtimes in England and Wales in 2007. The NPSA found that implementation was variable between hospital trusts and between wards in hospitals. The main incursions were: ward rounds, diagnostic tests, visitors and other healthcare professionals. The report pointed to a lack of 'Board to Ward' level leadership and lack of education and training for all staff groups. The critical success factors were: trust policy, promotion, communication and leadership (NPSA 2007a).

Protected mealtimes remain an important element of safe and effective nutritional care and are promoted by national schemes in the United Kingdom (NPSAb; Department of Health Social Services and Patient Safety 2011; Health Improvement Scotland 2011a).

The documents from the NPSA and Healthcare Improvement Scotland provide guidance on how to implement protected mealtimes. The NPSA (2009) based on their work on protected mealtimes, describes key aspects of providing a conducive eating environment and protected mealtimes. They also offer tips for implementing sustainable eating environments. The NPSA have also put together an implementation checklist and guidance on carrying our an observational audit of mealtimes (NPSA 2007).

Protected mealtimes are monitored on a regular basis by Catering Services Managers, Dieticians and Speech and Language Therapists, and any breach of protected mealtimes is reported and acted upon immediately. During these audits, team members also observe patients who require assistance at mealtime and are provided with a red tray. The aim of the protocol is to improve the nutritional intake of patients by providing help and/or extra time to eat by the use of specially designated meal trays. The red tray is a means of identifying those patients who may become or are malnourished, if their increased needs for assistance and time at mealtimes are not met.

Red Trays

The use of red trays at mealtimes identifies those patients who have been assessed by nursing staff to:

  • Need help to cut up food.
  • Need help with eating.
  • Supervise or assist patients who may have swallowing difficulties.
  • Supervise patients or identify those that may need additional time to eat their meal.

The system helps with monitoring of food and liquid intake and avoids a situation where food trays are removed from patients before they have had the opportunity to eat everything that they want to, or ensures that ward staff provide assistance.

Food Safety - Advice for Visitors Bringing Food Into Hospital

Patient and visitor safety is paramount. We work closely with the local Environmental Health Officer and have developed a robust Food Safety Monitoring System known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). This has helped us to attain the maximum 5 star ratings in our dining rooms and kitchens via our environmental health inspections, and the award certificates are displayed in our staff restaurants.

In addition, annual ward and main kitchen audits are undertaken to identify issues relating to food safety, estates maintenance, cleaning and practices, which are then audited and reported to the Trust's Infection, Prevention and Control Committee to ensure that food safety is high on everyone's agenda.


Bringing Food Into Hospital

We would hope that our services will cater for all your needs, although it is recognised that visitors may wish to bring food and drinks for patients to enjoy whilst they are in hospital. The Trust does, however, have a responsibility to ensure that the products are safe for patients to eat, and we would be grateful if visitors complied with the following guidance.

The following foods are low risk and therefore suitable for relatives or visitors to bring in:

  • Washed fresh fruit (but not prepared)
  • Fruit juice, cordials and glucose drinks
  • Savoury snacks such as nuts or crisps
  • All kinds of biscuits
  • Plain cakes (but not those containing cream or custard e.g. trifles or vanilla slices)
  • Sweets, chocolates or other confectionary

The following foods are considered a higher risk and should be avoided:

  • Sandwiches containing cooked meats, fish, eggs or other protein filling and made up meat products such as pies, pastries and scotch eggs are considered high risk, and as such should not be brought in from outside.

If such foods are brought in, they must, where possible, be eaten during the visit, eaten only by the patient and not shared with other vistors or patients on the ward. Any foods consumed by the patient brought in from outside must be recorded in their notes. These foods should not be stored or reheated, to reduce the risk of contamination. If meals are brought in at mealtimes, they can only be reheated if a probe is used and the core temperature is over 75OC. Any food stored for later consumption must be put straight into the fridge and clearly labelled with the patient's name and date, and must be discarded if not used within 24 hours.