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Ipswich patients wait for posh nosh

PUBLISHED: 05:00 15 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 March 2010

NAVARIN of lamb with cous cous, followed by posh pear and chocolate crumble are still not yet on the menu at hospitals across the country, including Ipswich.

NAVARIN of lamb with cous cous, followed by posh pear and chocolate crumble are still not yet on the menu at hospitals across the country, including Ipswich.

Only a third of Britain's hospitals have adopted the gourmet menu designed by TV food guru Loyd Grossman, as part of a £40 million government drive to improve hospital food.

The menu was unveiled last May and hospitals were told they should supply the full range of meals by the end of 2001.

But just 332 out of 946 hospitals in England (35 per cent) were offering the Grossman options by the deadline – and many trusts were yet to respond to other initiatives in the Better Hospital Food Programme.

Only 45pc were supplying snack boxes free to patients who were hungry outside normal mealtimes, and 44pc were offering the opportunity to change the time of meals if they coincided with a scheduled operation.

At Ipswich Hospital, it was feared the snack boxes alone would cost an extra £500,000.

Microwave meals are due to be offered by December 2004, and ward kitchens providing tea, coffee and orange juice and eventually fresh fruit, should have been open by December last year.

A spokesman for Ipswich Hospital said: "We welcome the innovation and creativity of the suggested new menus and are working hard to introduce them as soon as possible, but we have not been able to put the ideas into practice as yet because there is quite a large cost involved.

"As always, we are doing our very best to make sure the food served is nutritious and enjoyable."

But she added that with thousands of meals prepared and served in the hospital every day, not just the recipes but the whole process of delivering more complex meals and keeping them hot had to be looked at first.

Negotiations are underway to finalise the hospital's budget for the coming year, which will be announced in April.

Liberal Democrat spokesman for older people, Paul Burstow, said: "Take-up of this initiative shows it to be nothing more than a Government gimmick at the expense of ward workload.

"Tailoring the provision of food to suit the needs of patients is a laudable intention, but without additional staff and resources, it is simply another time-consuming chore for nurses who are already overstretched."

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