Hospital's 60-mile food run from Essex

FOOD for the newly-built Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is being cooked in Colchester 60 miles away and sent to Norwich by road, the House of Lords has heard.

FOOD for the newly-built Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is being cooked in Colchester 60 miles away and sent to Norwich by road, the House of Lords has heard.

Tory former minister Earl Ferrers said at question time yesterday that the hospital cost £230 million “and apparently has not got any kitchens in it or, if it has, they are not being used”.

He added: “Presumably all the dishes that come up from Colchester full of food, including porridge, have to go back to Colchester to be washed up and refuelled.”

For the Government, Baroness Andrews admitted she was “concerned”.


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She said: “I understand there is one journey a day. The hospital is a brand-new hospital and it has opted for the cook-chill method of delivered food.

“It does not sound very appetising but it is ... food is prepared off-site but it is fresh food, created to the highest possible quality standards and offers more choice. Hospital food has not been good and we want to make it better.”

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Hospital spokesman Andrew Stronach said, in fact the hospital had 27 wards and a ward kitchen for every two wards.

“Earl Ferrers has never been a patient here so has not been able to try our food. Since moving here in November the plan was always to have cook-chill and the benefits are clear,” Mr Stronach said.

“At the old site we had a central kitchen in the bowels of the building and patients received set portions which were sometimes lukewarm by the time they arrived.

“Cook-chill meals are ready meals like thousands of people buy at supermarkets every day. They are pre-cooked, chilled in Colchester and heated up in our ward kitchens.

“Ward chefs ask patients what, and how much they would like and cook the meals to order. Complaints have gone down, satisfaction has gone up, need I say more,” he added.

Neil Kirk, managing director of Anglia Crown Catering, which supplies the food to the hospital, said: “Between a quarter and a third of all NHS hospitals in England have food made off the premises and delivered. There are advantages in terms of quality, nutrition and economics.

“The food is delivered in disposable plastic trays which are then incinerated, so there is no waste, and the heat produced is used to heat hospitals.”

He added most of the food was chilled when delivered although some was frozen and that the food was heated at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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