Ho-ho-hospital dinners: Festive cheer with all the trimmings

5,400 patient meals delivered to wards this Christmas
210 kg of sprouts, 300kg of turkey, 244kg of roast potatoes, 6000 chipolatas

By Bill Heaney and Lucy Ashton

A catering team of unsung heroes has been hard at work behind the scenes to ensure patients across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde gets to celebrate Christmas day with a three-course festive dinner this year.

The Inverclyde Royal Hospital (IRH) operation is vast alongside its sister operation at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital – with more than 60 staff involved in prepping, cooking and packing around 5,400 thousand meals which will be delivered to all hospitals across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board area including The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, The New Victoria ACH and the IRH for the 25th of December.

The food is fresh, and cooked to meet patients’ nutritional needs with little to no waste thanks to precise planning by the team which includes Helen Blackwell, specialist catering dietitian. This year more than 210kg of Brussels Sprouts, nearly 300kg of turkey, 244kg of roast potatoes and nearly six thousand chipolatas will pass through the Cook Freeze Production Units under the watchful eyes of catering team managers, Jim Dougan, Scott Stirrat and administration manager, Margaret Valenti.

Head of Catering, Kate McVey, has strategic oversight of the whole catering operation, ensuring there are no hiccups. From taking orders from patients ahead of time, through to the prepping of the food, to the delivery across sites and finally onto the plates of patients courtesy of specially designed mobile ward ovens. Ray Jupp, Cook Freeze Production Unit Manager has now spent his first Christmas as Production Manager, and with the support of the team notes the operation runs like clockwork.

Kate McVey said:  “No one wants to be in hospital over Christmas and especially not to miss out on Christmas dinner so while we can’t promise the former, we can ensure everyone gets the option of a festive meal to help cheer them up on the 25th. Our Cook Freeze Production Units mean we’re able to deliver three courses packed with flavour and safe in the knowledge that across NHSGGC, our patients will receive food which is consistent in quality and nutritional value.

“Our staff work extremely hard all year round delivering 35,000 meals per week through both of our kitchens, so while it’s a mammoth task planning for Christmas, they take it in their stride along with any other day.”

The unit recently benefited from more than £500,000 in investment, as the facility’s ovens and other equipment were upgraded to support patients and to bring the units in line with the kitchen’s high-tech software programme – which allows the team to track meals right down to a single sprout if required.

Ray Jupp added: “We’re extremely proud of the food we produce for patients, from sourcing fresh produce from nationally contracted suppliers like Campbell’s the Butchers and Andrew McDicken’s fresh seafood, both providing Scottish produce. Everything we produce is carefully designed to give our patients nutritious and tasty food, all year round.

“This year patients have a range of options for Christmas dinner, so whether you love or loathe sprouts, there’ll be something for everyone.”

Picture caption: L-R Ray Jub – Cook Freeze Production Manager, Michelle Gray – catering strategy dietitian, Alan Doug – Team manager

Leave a Reply