Meals for patients at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, defended after councillors’ concerns

Many meals at Queen’s Hospital in Romford are prepared in Wales before being transported hundreds of miles to patients, which is concerning a group of councillors.

The process involves cooking meals in advance and then warming them up at the Rom Valley Way hospital before serving them to patients, the Recorder can reveal.

Contractors Sodexo, who provide meals at the hospital, point out that their food has been rated as ‘excellent’.

But councillors on Havering Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee have raised concerns about the practice.

At a recent meetinng, councillors challenged the practice about the food being prepared in South Wales.

Vice chairman Cllr Nic Dodin (Residents’ Association, Hacton) said that he will raise it again at the committee’s next meeting.

Chairman Cllr Pam Light (Conservative, Harold Wood) said: “We’ve spoken to other areas and it seems like they are doing the same.

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“The menu at Queen’s is very varied and it is quite good.

“Members of the committee have spent time there and they’ve had no complaints about variety or how it tastes, but the committee looks to help make improvements where we can.”

Cllr Ted Eden (Conservative, Petits), former chairman of the committee, said: “I brought this up when I was chairman and in council meetings.

“The meals are cooked in Wales, frozen and thawed out when they get to Queen’s and this is what they serve to elderly and sick people.

“I wouldn’t want to eat that, it’s not fresh, and patient’s welfare is far too important to give that sort of food to.”

Havering Friends of the Earth coordinator John Robinson said: “It seems like it would be doing a lot of food miles, and the process of heating it up twice – both in Wales and Romford – as well as chilling it must use a lot of energy.”

A spokesman for Sodexo said: “In addition to the freshly prepared meals made on site using local produce where possible, pre-chilled, clearly labelled nutritionally analysed meals are provided which assist and enable trust dieticians to plan appropriate diets for patients including those with specific nutritional requirements.

“The BHR NHS Trust has achieved a PEAT status of ‘excellent’ - the highest standard for its foodservice provision - for the second consecutive year.

She added: “As an award winning company recognised for commitment to sustainability, all our pre-chilled meals are delivered using Euro 5 standard vehicles recognised for reducing carbon emissions.”