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Microwave ready meals plan for north Cumbrian hospitals

Ready meals could replace freshly-prepared food at community hospitals across north Cumbria.

John Holland photo
John Holland

One campaigner has dubbed the move “Micro-gate”, as it could see pre-made food bought in and microwaved.

The Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the area’s nine community hospitals, has already introduced the meals in Cockermouth, Workington and Millom. Now it looking at rolling them out to the others, sparking opposition in north Cumbria.

It says the aim is to improve nutrition, choice and ensure meals are available at any time of the day or night.

But John Holland, chairman of the Friends of Brampton Hospital, who came up with the ‘Micro-gate’ slogan, believes it is purely a cost-cutting move.

“I strongly believe you should have people cooking meals on site,” he told The Cumberland News. “I don’t think it would be a bad thing to have a support service where, if you need something out of hours, microwave meals are available for reheating. But it is not a replacement for what we currently have – cooking food on the premises and serving it fresh,” he said

“I do not believe they are doing this for any other reason than cost saving.

“I have canvassed opinion of some of our board members and they think pre-prepared food heated in microwaves is a retrograde step. Everything you read at the moment is telling you that the best food you can eat is made with fresh ingredients. With this, you don’t know where it has come from.”

The changes could also affect Penrith, Wigton, Alston, Keswick and Maryport.

Cumbria’s Joint League of Friends is concerned the hospitals will lose their existing kitchens and cooks.

Maryport’s Pat O’Shea, who sits on the committee, said: “The Joint League of Friends are not happy. They think it’s financial, that it’s cost-cutting. These hospitals are dealing with very sick and frail patients who often do not want to eat anything. How can you put a ready meal in front of someone who feels like that?

“In Maryport, our cook will go onto the ward and ask what they want to eat, then makes it for them. You just can’t do that with ready meals.”

Workington MP Tony Cunningham has also expressed his concerns about the changes.

But a Cumbria Partnership spokeswoman insisted the aim of the review was to improve the food available to patients.

She added that no decisions had yet been taken and they were in the process of organising tasting events for staff and League of Friends groups.

She said: “We have already introduced new arrangements to the way meals are provided at Millom, Cockermouth and Workington in order to improve the quality and nutritional value of the meals and to provide patients with a wider choice.

“This is a flexible service that is available to the patients at their convenience – at any time of day or night. We are currently looking at ways to provide food at our other community hospitals with a similar high quality service.

“We are in the early stages of this.”

Have your say

This is fatal for good health or for recovery from surgery and infections as there is NO natural vitamins and minerals available and microwaves are simply bad for health.

Get rid of Managers fast they have wrecked NHS hospitals as it is run as Corporation where money is God and has moved away from Hippocrates the Doctors Hippocratic oath of thou shalt do no harm, mind you the synthetic drugs prescribed do hamr just see the side effects list and even if no information sheet comes with whatever is prescribed go online and type in name of drug and information sheet.

Everyone needs to wake up...

Posted by Pete on 21 April 2014 at 12:48

I work in CIC and would welcome a variety of microwave meals in place of the frozen heated, dried out offerings that are on offer at this hospital. Food is either not ready and you have to wait, or it sits under heat lamps or in heated trolleys. The food at CIC has to be the worst in any hospital in the country.

Posted by hospital worker on 20 April 2014 at 15:24

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