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Hospital Catering Award: Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

9th Apr 2024 - 11:22

Across Nottingham Children’s Hospital one of the main patient groups are infants and young children, residing for both long and short stay admissions. In 2022 there was 4,205 patients of this age range admitted to the hospital.

One of the main problems was wards being unable to access baby food via the supply chain, leading to a very limited choice or none being available for patients. Parents were having to provide their own. This can be difficult for parents to leave the ward or for those who live far away. 

Where some families were struggling to manage access to food for their infant, sometimes ward staff were going out to local shops to buy items from their own money. A task and finish group was put together to work towards a solution to this long standing issue that had become progressively worse, with just one flavour of baby jar available to the ward teams. 

The solution had three aims to deliver. The first was to provide a new infant feeding menu of baby jar/pouches. The second aim was for the catering team to explore the processes involved in making their own baby meals to run alongside the baby pouch offer. The third aim was to create and produce a blended food menu for patients to use via a gastrostomy. 

A new distributor, who supplies some supermarket chains with a brand of baby pouches, was found. In a matter of weeks a new menu was drafted and printed. The hospital worked with the distributor to ensure they had what they needed and were able to commit to regular stock and deliveries.

A task and finish document was completed by the multi-disciplinary teams involved: catering, dietetics and children’s hospital nursing team. The document was submitted to the Trusts Food and Menu work stream for discussion and approval.

The menu has been very well received and has taken pressure off patients but also ward staff. Ordering of the meals via the electronic meal ordering system allows them to monitor usage and manage waste much more efficiently.

The wards have a small additional supply of stock at ward level to support any infants requiring food outside of the typical regular meal times. The next phase to be started is the development of the in house made baby food to compliment the pouches.

This is more challenging with more complexities with food production and safety involved. The blended food element has also been developed, with an initial potential solution being investigated. 

Nicola Strawther from Nottingham University Hospital NHS trust, commented: “What may appear to be a small basic improvement to the service, is in fact a huge relief for many parents trying to care for their infants, knowing that they can now access meals without worry. The system is much more efficient and effective. Patients are receiving the nutrition and hydration they require to support recovery.”

PSC Alliance