£6m ‘super kitchens’ to boost hospital food
HEALTH chiefs in Glasgow are to spend £6million on new centralised "super-kitchens" to improve hospital food standards.
The two state-of-the-art units will prepare, cook and deliver fresh food to every hospital in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
The kitchens, to be based at Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital and Inverclyde Royal in Greenock, will end a controversial contract with Tillery Valley Foods in Wales to supply freeze-cook meals to Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
The investment has been welcomed by union leaders who have criticised the shift towards "airline-style", ready-cooked hospital meals.
The two super-kitchens will provide meals for 5500 patients in the board's 300 wards on any given day, a total of 43,000 portions equivalent to 15 million meals annually, including 1.3 million portions of chicken and 2.8 million portions of vegetables.
However, the reorganisation will mean the closure of some older hospital kitchens which are no longer fit for purpose, resulting in up to 50 job cuts.
The board says it will be working with union officials to minimise the impact on staff, who will be offered relocation to jobs based at the new kitchens or training for alternative roles.
The number of catering staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital will rise from 67 to 90 and staffing at Inverclyde Royal Infirmary will increase from 53 to 73.
A recent survey found that one-quarter of Scots patients felt the quality of meals was so bad they had food brought in by visitors.
Matt McLaughlin of public sector union Unison said "There is no doubt that significant investment in NHS Catering is welcome.
"Unison is keen to ensure there is little or no negative impact for staff."
Alex McIntyre, Director of Facilities said: "The vast majority of staff displaced by the closure of the old kitchens will be retrained to work at the ward level where they will regenerate the chilled food and serve patients. For a small number, there will be other opportunities and we will now enter into detailed discussions with the staff affected to explore these options with them."
The health board has also announced it is cutting opening hours in staff canteens many of which it says are lying empty for lengthy periods during the day.
The canteens receive an annual £2 million subsidy, which the board said would be re-invested on core services. It was not known what impact this could have on catering jobs.
NHSGGC said the majority of dining rooms would remain open at busy periods, with the exception of Gartnavel.
Publication date 16/07/09