Meals on the Ward
Food preparation and service
All of the hot food served within the hospital is prepared and cooked on-site in our hospital kitchen by our team of dedicated and professional chefs. The food is sent in heated trolleys to the wards and served hot to our patients at ward level by our ward domestic staff with the help of our nursing staff. This makes it easier to cater for individual needs regarding portion sizes or special dietary requirements. This also means we have control of the catering process, from fresh ingredients entering our kitchens to hot food being served. The hospital has a 2 week menu cycle so that you will always have something new available and are less likely to tire of the same choices even if you are in hospital for a while.
Choosing from menus
The menus are handed out the day before for patients to tick their preferences (so you order a day in advance). The exception to this is Dolphin ward (the children’s ward) where meals are chosen that morning. Help will be given when patients are unable to make choices themselves. Provision is made for some choice to be given to patients who have just been admitted to the ward.
The menus have been designed to help patients choose well-balanced and nourished meals. Some of the meals have been designed to follow the principles of healthy eating by reducing saturated fats, and by increasing unsaturated fats, by increasing fibre and fresh fruit and vegetables, and by decreasing sugar and salt. Other recipes have been designed to provide a higher energy intake at times when you need additional nutritional support to aid recovery. There is some coding on the hospital menus enable patients to make their own choices with some guidance.
These are the following:
healthy eating (♥)
low fat (LF)
High Energy (H)
Times of meals
Breakfast 7.30: Cereals and bread rolls
Lunch 12.00: Choice of three hot meals and sandwiches
Evening meal 5.00: Choice of two hot meals and sandwiches
One choice at each meal time will be vegetarian. Halal and Kosher meals are also available every day for patients who choose to eat them for religious reasons. These are not prepared by the hospital. Please ask a member of the ward staff about these if you require them.
In addition to these mealtimes, hot drinks and biscuits are served between meals and in the evening.
The ward Trolley visits the wards daily – selling a range of snacks, newspapers and magazines from the WRVS shop. The timing of this may vary from day to day.
Where else is food available in the hospital?
Restaurant – The Alexandra Restaurant is open daily serving hot and cold breakfasts from 7am - 10.30am, a range of hot meals, sandwiches and a salad bar are available at lunch 12.00pm - 2.15pm and evening meal 5pm – 8pm
Costa Coffee: Operates a café based in outpatients near the main hospital entrance selling a range of drinks, hot and cold sandwiches and snacks. Its opening hours 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am-3pm weekends
Vending Machines: The hospital has several vending machines which provide snacks and drinks day and night.
Shop – The WRVS operate a shop located in outpatients which sells a range of sweet and savoury snacks and drinks. Its opening hours are 8am-5pm
Missed a meal?
If you miss a meal because you went for a procedure or had an appointment at another hospital you may be provided with a snack box or the nursing staff may order you food from the canteen.
Special Requirements and therapeutic diets
Identifying those who are at risk of malnutrition:
Some people may require extra help or input to ensure that they get adequate nutrition whilst in hospital either because they are underweight or because they are struggling to eat. To help identify these patients everyone is screened on admission and then weekly by the nursing staff to monitor their weight and nutritional requirements.
You may come across different members of staff who have particular skills to help you:
Dietitians: The hospital employs a team of Dietitians to help patients who have specific dietary requirements including malnourished patients and people requiring tube feeding. They will perform a full nutritional assessment and create a treatment plan based on your requirements, situation and preferences.
Speech and Language therapists: If you are having trouble swallowing food you may see a speech and language therapist who will assess your ability to swallow and provide advice on appropriate textures.
Nutrition Nurse: If you are unable to meet your nutritional requirements orally you may meet the hospital nutrition specialist nurse who specialises in the placement and management of feeding tubes.
Special Dietary needs:
The ward staff (nursing and domestic staff) work closely with the catering team, and Dietitians to ensure that patients get the special diet they require.
Nursing and domestic staff will be able to help patients make choices for non-complex special diets. However for some more complicated diets, e.g. gluten free diet, allergies or if you have kidney problems, your meal might need to be prepared specially by the kitchen following advice from the dietitian. If this is the case we might not be able to offer the same level of choice, but would welcome you to state any food preferences or dislikes so that we can prepare foods that you will enjoy.
Please ask a nurse to refer you to a Dietitian if the doctor has requested you follow a particular diet and you need some more information or advice on how to follow the diet.
A Note on Special Diets
The catering team do an excellent job of supplying freshly prepared hot and cold meals to around 500 patients in the hospital. They have to supply food that is suitable for a wide range of dietary requirements. For this reason, not all the meals will be suitable for everybody. A large percentage of patients are underweight on admission to hospital, and could continue to lose weight if not encouraged to eat foods that are quite high in energy (calories). Other patients might have had a heart attack and are keen to lose weight or reduce their fat intake. Many patients with chewing or swallowing difficulties require a soft or even puree diet.
It is not possible to have separate menus for every single diet. In real life people will have to make those choices themselves if eating out or just buying food in a supermarket. Some people can also be anxious in hospital and want to eat foods that they are familiar with, and put off starting a new healthy eating diet until they are back in their own surroundings. Likewise children want to eat foods that they like and are familiar with and therefore some of these less healthy options are included on the menus.
The diet that is recommended for diabetes is based around healthy eating guidelines that are advised for the general population. This helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and some other complications. People with diabetes also need to be aware of how their intake of carbohydrate affects their sugar level and how to manage this. Some people on insulin have four injections a day. This gives them the flexibility to adjust their insulin dose around the carbohydrate content of their meals. Other people may only be on 2 injections per day and rely more on keeping their carbohydrate intake at meals consistent from day to day. People with type 2 diabetes that is controlled with tablets or just diet alone may need to pay more attention to the type of carbohydrate they are eating and include more that don’t affect the blood glucose level very quickly (low glycameic index foods).
The coding on the hospital menus for diabetes is quite general and tries to indicate healthy options or low sugar options. It doesn’t mean that people with diabetes can’t choose other foods from the menu also. It depends a lot on how they manage their diabetes at home. If you are uncertain about how to eat for your diabetes, please contact a Dietitian.
www.diabetes.org.uk (Diabetes UK is the largest organisation in the UK working for people with diabetes)
High energy and protein
Many people are admitted to hospital already having lost weight due to the nature of their illness. People may continue to lose weight in hospital for many different reasons (e.g. poor appetite, feeling nauseous or vomiting, disease condition using up a lot of energy). Therefore for many patients the most suitable ‘diet’ will be one that is high in energy (calories). The protein stores in their body may also have run low and they need to make use they are having adequate protein in their diet.
These patients will be encouraged to eat as much as they can. It might be helpful to eat small meals more regularly or to have snacks between meals. They may also find it helpful to have high energy drinks (e.g. Build-Up, Complan, Ovaltine, drinking chocolate, milkshakes, sugary drinks). They need to include nutrient dense foods, e.g.: meat, fish, cheese, eggs, yogurt and also energy dense foods such as fried foods, biscuits, cakes, crisps, chocolate, desserts, pastries, butter, cream etc. This differs to normal healthy eating advice but is often not needed long term.