Has hospital food in Doncaster gone downhill since new contract began?

Richard Cooper-Holmes and one of the disappointing dishes he was given
Richard Cooper-Holmes and one of the disappointing dishes he was given

Hospital food in Doncaster has gone downhill since a new provider took over, according to a former restaurateur.

But NHS bosses say they are working to ensure all meals are tasty and nutritious, and to address any 'teething issues' with the new arrangement.

Mr Cooper-Holmes was not impressed with this pork dish he was served at Doncaster Royal Infirmary either

Mr Cooper-Holmes was not impressed with this pork dish he was served at Doncaster Royal Infirmary either

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals signed a 10-year contract with Sodexo to take over its catering services from January this year.

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The trust claimed the new deal, replacing the in-house service, would ensure a 'revamped, innovative and tasty dining service' after patient ratings for food had fallen.

As well as refurbishing kitchens and opening new cafes and a restaurant, other changes as part of the new agreement include longer opening hours and an electronic ordering system for patients.

But the shake-up has proved hard to stomach for one patient, who claims meals are less appetising and the portion sizes smaller since the new contract began.

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Richard Cooper-Holmes, a former Rossington councillor who briefly ran his own restaurant, has spent the last month at Doncaster Royal Infirmary following a major foot operation - and he is distinctly unimpressed with the dishes he has been served.

"The food's gone massively downhill since I was last in hospital two-and-a-half years ago, when the quality and quantity was bang on," said the 68-year-old, of Rossington.

"It's brought in pre-cooked and is then heated in a steamer.

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"I was served beef in gravy, which consisted of two slices of meat about the thickness of Parma ham with the texture of leather and no gravy.

"The pork I was given another time had the consistency of damp cardboard and broke up as soon as you stuck a fork into it.

"The portions are tiny too. I had a chicken korma which filled about half a plate, and the only difference between regular and large servings is an ice cream scoop-sized dollop of mashed potato.

"The new catering company is French but unfortunately the food isn't nearly as good as the French would expect."

When the new catering deal was announced last October, the trust said Sodexo had been chosen following a competitive tendering process and tasting sessions with patients, members of the public and its governors.

Dr Kirsty Jones, the trust's director of estates and facilities, said: "Since the commencement of our new catering services in January 2018, we have been working closely with partners, Sodexo, to ensure our patients receive high quality and nutritious meals while they are staying with us.

"As with any change or transition, together we are working hard to address any teething issues that may arise as the new service is embedded at the trust. With the adoption of a new electronic, ordering system, we are also looking at training and other support to make sure that all meals are delivered to wards and departments as ordered.

"If patients are unhappy with the quality of food they receive, we ask them to inform a member of our staff immediately so they can notify our catering service and try to resolve any problems directly."