Fears have been raised that patients at Accrington Victoria Community Hospital may find themselves without a canteen after health bosses trialled bringing meals in from outside.
Community leaders have expressed concern at the possibility, claiming that ‘issues with temperature’ from nearby Blackburn Hospital, from where the food was brought in, could have negative consequences for some of the most vulnerable people.
The one-week trial, carried out by East Lancashire NHS Hospital Trust, took place in March.
Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said he was “shocked” when he found out about the trial.
He said: “My gut feeling is they’ll close it. I have used the Accrington Victoria restaurant.
“All meals are prepared by a chef on site and are brilliant, which can’t be said for all other areas of the trust.
“If it goes I’ll be very sorry. I can understand if it is a cost-cutting exercise but I will be keeping my eye on it. I’ve eaten at Blackburn and the food is brilliant but they have temperature issues.
“My worry would be cold meals. Food is key for patients in Accrington because of the elderly age group and the most vulnerable patients being stepped down from hospital beds into the community.”
Martin Morgan, director of estate and facilities at the trust, said the trial was to test an alternative hot food catering option for the in-patients, visitors and staff members at the hospital.
He said food was freshly prepared in the Royal Blackburn Hospital kitchens, then delivered to Accrington and served on the ward and in the staff restaurant.
He said: “Our evaluation of the trial found the food met our high quality standards.
“In addition, no negative feedback was received from patients, visitors or members of staff about the quality, temperature or availability of hot food provided during the trial.
“We currently have no plans to change catering arrangements at the hospital.
“However, as a public body funded by the taxpayer, the Trust will continue to provide the highest quality catering service in the most effective way.”
Miles Parkinson, Hyndburn council leader, said feedback was important.
He said: “If the quality goes down that’s a concern but if the food is the same standard or better, I don’t see a problem.”