£2.5 million deal to transform Doncaster hospital food

Improvements are planned to the food facilities at Doncaster's hospitals
Improvements are planned to the food facilities at Doncaster's hospitals

Doncaster Royal Infirmary is set to see its hospital food arrangements transformed under a £2.5 million deal.

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals has signed a contract with Sodexo, for its patient dining and retail services. The 10 year contract will bring with it investment in food and eating facilities provided for patients, staff and visitors.

The move comes after patient assessment score of the hospitals food had shown a fall.

Bosses at the trust say catering services at its sites will see huge improvements, with high street eateries set to open their doors within the coming months, while inpatients will benefit from a revamped, innovative and tasty dining service.

One such culinary development will see patients using a new electronic ordering system, giving those staying at the hospitals the ability to place an order for a meal up to two hours before it is served.

By making use of technology, the hospital’s kitchens will also receive real-time data from patients if they want to cancel or change their order, which is expected to contribute to a significant reduction in food waste. This information will also be used to develop menus, making sure patients receive tasty, high quality meals.

New meal trolleys will also be introduced, providing a seamless service from kitchen to bedside, ensuring appetising patient food arrives on time and at the right temperature.

These changes will be made after refurbishments to Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s kitchens, while both Bassetlaw and Montagu will also see further investment in their catering arrangements.

Under the terms of the new partnership, existing catering staff from DBTH will transfer to the new provider under Transfer of Undertaking Protection of Employment (TUPE) and will retain NHS benefits such as their pension.

Dr Kirsty Edmondson Jones, director of estates and facilities at the trust, said: "It is our intention to provide the best possible catering services for those who come to our hospitals and we believe this investment will allow us to offer a top notch and varied dining experience for the people of Doncaster, Bassetlaw and beyond.”

"Over the past number of years, our catering offer has remained quite static, without much development. By partnering with Sodexo we will benefit from investment in our facilities, as well as the introduction of technology into our food ordering process, ensuring our patients benefit from an innovative and tasty new service.

The new arrangement will also see expanded opening hours, meaning that staff working nights will find it easier to get a bite to eat during breaks, while retailers such as Costa Coffee and Subway will also be available offering a high-street alternative to the hospital’s restaurants.

James Taylor, chief executive of Sodexo Healthcare, said: “We see this as an opportunity to collaborate with the Trust to deliver a first-class experience for patients, staff and visitors.”

The contract was awarded to Sodexo following a competitive tendering process, as well as a number of ‘tasting sessions’ with patients, the public and governors.

Work will begin to refurbish the Trust’s catering services in the coming weeks.

The announcement comes after surveys at the hospital had shown a fall in their assessment scores of the food.

Patient led assessments are an annual appraisal of the non-clinical aspects of NHS, such as food, undertaken by teams made up of staff, governors and members of the public. The team is made up of a minimum of 50 per cent patient assessors.

Hospital bosses said whilst patient led assessment scores for their food had deteriorated, it was not as a result of a decline in the food quality on offer, but as a result of improvements and innovations made to food services by other hospitals whose scores have then improved and impacted upon the average ratings.

"Essentially our catering service has remained static whilst others has improved, investing in new technology such as i-pad meal ordering systems that enable patients to order their meals up to one hour before meal service," said a spokesman.