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North-East hospital trust singled out for praise by food campaigners
Patient Patricia Moore with Health Care Assistant Catherine Price and Christine Biglin, Food Retail Manager.
A HOSPITAL trust in the North-East has been singled out for praise by a group campaigning for better food for in-patients.
Darlington Memorial Hospital, part of an NHS trust which has won 12 awards for good hospital food in recent years, was identified as one of the best providers of hospital food by supporters of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food.
The Memorial Hospital - which was featured on national television news because of its reputation - is part of the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
The spotlight fell on the Darlington hospital after the Campaign for Better Hospital Food unveiled figures which showed that NHS hospitals routinely award themselves a high rating for the quality of their patient meals, despite an independent Care Quality Commission suvey showing half of patients are dissatisfied with hospital food.
The discovery has led to renewed calls for the Government to introduce mandatory hospital food standards similar to those that already exist for prison food.
Patients being given lunch at Darlington Memorial Hospital spoke in glowing terms of the choice and quality of food available to them yesterday.
Patricia Moore, 78, from Darlington, who had been a patient for more than a week said: "Where else could you get such an excellent three course meal twice a day for what they are allowed to spend on each patient. It is excellent."
Harry Fahey, 65, from Newton Aycliffe, who has been an in-patient for a fortnight said: "You dont see much left on plates so they must be doing something right. I would give them eight out of 10 for their food."
Alison McCree, associate director of facilities at the Trust, said: "We see food as part of the treatment. We prepare and cook everything in our central production unit here in Darlington and send it out to the other seven hospitals we run."
She said patients were offered an a la carte menu with 26 choices.
Explaining why the County Durham and Darlington Trust only got a 51 per cent approval rating from patients in the independent Care Quality Commission survey, Ms McCree said part of the CQC score related to whether patients were given help to eat their food.
"We have got a lot of elderly patients and that is where we still have some work to do," she added.
Elsewhere in the region South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was one of the better performers, with 61 per cent of patients telling the CQC that their food was good.
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