FOOD quality at Witney Community Hospital has been ranked as the third worst in England.
The Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust hospital in Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency achieved a food quality rating of 49.43 per cent after inspectors visited in March.
As a result, the Welch Way site ranked 1,256th out of 1,258 NHS hospital sites, according to the Department of Health which published the findings to ramp up standards of hospital food.
Oxford Health said it improved the quality of food after the learning of the findings, which it called “disappointing”.
Witney town councillors and patients were surprised by the results of the results of the study.
Valerie Williamson’s 79-year-old husband, James, spent seven weeks in Witney Community Hospital in May, after he broke his hip and wrist in a fall.
The 73-year-old former administrative worker, of Brize Norton Road, Minster Lovell, said: “I just can’t believe it because I have high standards and thought the food was very good.
“It was well-presented, hot, fresh and we were more than happy with everything.”
The score was worked out after patients and members of the public sampled every item of food on offer, rated it for taste, temperature and texture.
They also looked at how the food was served, including whether the ward was prepared for mealtimes, whether patients had the chance to wash their hands and if unnecessary activity was stopped.
Valerie and James Williamson
Witney Community Hospital provides 60 beds, a specialist stroke unit, day care services, a minor injuries unit, an outpatient clinic, therapy services as well as X-ray services.
Witney East ward Labour Party councillor Duncan Enright urged people not jump to conclusions about its standard of care.
He said: “Like all ranking systems that the Government uses, this can be crude and poorly-designed, so I would expect this to be something that the management of the hospital will look at, not something to judge the hospital on.
“I question the value of a league table like this.”
The findings are part of an announcement from the Department of Health that hospital trusts will be legally-bound to follow new food standards.
They must identify patients at risk of becoming malnourished, have protected mealtimes, promote healthy diets and source food in a sustainable way. Patient and public feedback will be used to assess and rank the quality of food on offer before the results are made public.
Alistair Duncan, a spokesman for the trust, said: “We were pleased to learn that almost all of the sites run by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust were assessed as providing food of good quality to patients.
“We were, however, disappointed that assessors rated the food at Witney Community Hospital as requiring improvement.”
Mr Duncan said the trust put in place an action plan to improve food at Witney.
He added that a survey it carried out in August resulted in 85 per cent of patients rating new meals as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
But the trust did not respond to the Oxford Mail’s requests for information about how food was prepared or sourced at the hospital.
Healthwatch Oxfordshire chief executive Rachel Coney said she endorsed the move for mandatory food standards.
She said: “It is clearly a concern if any hospital within the county is not offering the high quality of food the patients it serves have the right to expect.”
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust runs Oxford’s Churchill Hospital, John Radcliffe Hospital, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Banbury’s Horton Hospital.
Wendy Robinson, head of food services at the trust, said: “Currently our food policy is focused on patient nutrition and providing patients with the food they need to help them recover whilst giving them plenty of choice.”
Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron last night was not available for comment.
How has the food been when you’ve been in hospital? Tweet us your pictures via @The OxfordMail
HOW THEY FARED
- 252nd: Wallingford Community Hospital (99.02%)
- 253rd: Bicester Community Hospital (99.02% )
- 381st: Didcot Community Hospital (97.92%)
- 703rd: Fiennes Centre (93.75%)
- 720th: Fulbrook Centre (93.56%)
- 779th: Wantage Community Hospital (92.64%)
- 930th: The Churchill Hospital (89.43%)
- 960th: The Horton Hospital (88.79%)
- 963rd: John Radcliffe Hospital (88.68%)
- 1,027th: Littlemore Hospital (87.15%)
- 1,039th: Oxford City Community Hospital (86.76%)
- 1,045th: Manor House Hospital (86.57%)
- 1,046th: Abingdon Community Hospital (86.49%)
- 1,087th: Warneford Hospital (84.76%)
- 1,146th: Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (80.68%)
- 1,256th: Witney Community Hospital (49.43%)
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