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New hospital food to cost half a million

PUBLISHED: 15:35 17 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

HOSPITAL patients are to be offered a constant supply of free snack boxes filled with tasty treats – which could cost cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital half a million pounds.

HOSPITAL patients are to be offered a constant supply of free snack boxes filled with tasty treats – which could cost cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital half a million pounds.

The McDonalds-style snack boxes filled with sandwiches, fruit juice and chocolate, are part of a revamp of hospital food across the country, spearheaded by Loyd Grossman.

They will be available free of charge 24-hours a day, by December, and the new hotel-style food service will also include three dishes of the day designed by Mr Grossman.

Microwave meals will be on offer by December 2004, and ward kitchens providing tea, coffee and orange juice and eventually fresh fruit will have to be open by December 2001.

But at Ipswich Hospital, which is already trying to find £2.1m to make up a funding deficit this year, bosses are critical of the expensive Government-led scheme.

Director of finance and performance Chris Dooley was reluctant to guess how much the snack boxes would cost in advance, but said other hospitals had talked of a £0.5m bill. It is not yet clear how much funding the Department of Health will provide.

Chief executive Peter Morris told directors that the cost this year would be modest, but it would be a 'considerable, five-figure sum' for the next full year.

Deputy chairman Chris Smart said she and other delegates at a national NHS conference had been given a snack box to try, and said it had been of 'little nutritional value.'

She said the cost would be 'phenomenal.'

Chairman Peter Bye said he had sampled hospital meals and realised how difficult it was to keep food hot as it was delivered to such a large campus.

He said staff worked hard and their efforts were commendable.

The plan also includes an option to move the main meal to the evening instead of lunchtime, so a survey will be done to see what Ipswich patients think.

It also promises more cleaning resources, Mr Morris said the hospital was already planning to roll out a cleaning project which has been trialled in four wards, to all its wards in October.

Hospital contracts manager Paul Nettleton said: "There might seem to be a gimmicky element at first, but it is important, especially for elderly patients, to eat properly and anything which can encourage them to eat is a positive thing."

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