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Frozen food for patients

Thursday, 14th May, 2009

by Gina Wilson

The local hospital has not denied that it will start serving patients frozen food by the end of next month.

In its 2007/2008 annual report, the Greater Western Area Health Service flagged changes to its food production.

A spokesman for the Greater Western Area Health Service said yesterday that a plan to reform the way patients were fed would save it money. He said the GWAHS was working with something called "Health Support Services" to provide the frozen food. "Already food services delivered by four area health services - North Coast, Greater Southern, South Eastern Sydney Illawarra and Northern Sydney Central Coast - have transitioned to Health Support Services," he said. What this means is that the city's patients could be fed in the same way as is being done in other hospitals; meals would be made at a distant central point, frozen, then delivered and re-heated. Patients, including the sick, elderly and children are expected to open their packaged meal. The South Eastern Sydney Area Health Service, for example, has its meals cooked, frozen and then delivered from Port Kembla, 100 kilometres away. The Port Kembla facility also delivers frozen food to the Greater Southern Area Health Service. The decision to feed patients frozen food contradicts a government campaign that began in 2005, was claimed as a success in 2007, and is still running today. The health initiative, supported by the NSW Government, encouraged everyone to "Go for 2 fruit and 5 vegies for good health" and said frozen food should only be used when fresh was not available. The campaign said: "Fresh is best. Canned and frozen fruit and vegetables can be a convenient alternative when fresh isn't available, but look for varieties without added salt or sugar." The GWAHS spokesman would not say if kitchen jobs would be lost at the hospital, but he said it was talking to unions and staff about "changes". He would not say when these changes might happen.

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