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A-Z Services - Catering - Patient Meals

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Patient Meals Service

In April 2007 the cook-freeze system was introduced for the Patient Meals Service.


Advances in food and systems technology makes cook-freeze ideal for hospitals and replaces the conventional plated meal system previously used by the RD&E catering service for over 15 years. About 2,000 patient meals are served daily.


Nationally cook-freeze is used in over 300 hospitals and companies providing this service provide menu planning and nutritional support. All meals have been nutritionally assessed following national guidelines.


Cook freeze offers the Trust the opportunity to offer a more extensive menu which can be easily changed to reflect local eating trends. Positive feedback from patients on two wards where cook-freeze was piloted before it was introduced Trust-wide included comments like “the food is much hotter, the presentation is nicer and the portion size is what you want.”

Photo of Ward housekeeper serving up hot food


How the cook-freeze Patient Meals Service system works

Menu cards filled out by patients are scanned electronically to inform the catering service what frozen stock is needed. New purpose-built trolley ovens, crockery and non-slip trays are loaded with the meals which are then served directly to patients on the wards. The trolleys are taken from the kitchens out to wards where the meals are cooked in time for lunch and supper.


Housekeepers do food temperature monitoring and give the served meals to the ward nurses, who take the meals to the patients and who after the patient has finished collect the used trays to return to the housekeepers to then clean down and return them to the kitchen.


The majority of regular patient meals are on blue trays but up to 30 per cent are on red trays to inform nursing staff that the patient has special nutritional or dietary needs. The appetite and nutritional quality of patient meals is recognised as an important part of hospital care in the recovery progress.


Special dietary meals, sandwiches, deserts, gravies and sauces will continue to be made by the catering department. Cook-freeze does not apply to the Oasis restaurant where over 400 freshly cooked meals are served daily to staff, patients and visitors.