“Marmite” syrup sponge among hospital workers’ food complaints


SOME medical staff are just as unimpressed with hospital food as their people they treat, according to newly released NHS documents.

Over-boiled macaroni, hairy shepherd’s pie, and a syrup sponge that “tasted of marmite” are among the catering grievances lodged by health workers in Scotland.

NHS Tayside gave details of 20 formal staff complaints about food which it has investigated in the past five years.

In March 2010, a nurse complained that the “lentils were too hard and vegetable burgers tough” in her meal.

It is noted that the kitchen supervisor agreed to “look into the cooking time for lentils”.

Patients and staff alike have complained about the food
Patients and staff alike have complained about the food


One month later, there was another complaint that the macaroni was “overboiled, sloppy and tasteless” and the lasagne was “over-seasoned with artificial taste”.

In 2012 a nurse complained the potatoes were “bright yellow” and that the “pastry was not cooked properly on vegetable quiche”. In both instances, the kitchen supervisor agreed to “look into this”.

Two years later, a nurse was upset with her lemon mousse dessert, complaining that it was “inedible as was like a milkshake”.

It was discovered that the reason for this was because “the icepack had been forgotten when the dessert was put on the trolley”.

However, just two months later, another nurse complained that the same mousse “had the consistency of water”.

The most bizarre complaint was made in 2010 by a member of admin staff, who stated that their syrup sponge “tasted like marmite”.

The kitchen supervisor described the complaint as “unusual” and suggested that “something had happened in transit…perhaps gravy or something similar had spilled onto it”.

NHS Lothian’s data reveals that since 2010, they have received 97 complaints from members of staff regarding food served.

In February 2013, a ward nurse reported that a hair had been found in their steak and ale pie, and less than two weeks later another hair was reported in a shepherd’s pie.

In June this year, a staff member complained that her lamb rogan josh was too small, and as a result was given a free meal.

NHS Grampian said they had received one complaint from a member of staff in the past five years.

In April this year, a staff nurse at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary found a “very poor lunch selection” with “no soup left…and the fish mornay had very little fish left in it”.

Scotland’s remaining 11 health boards claimed that complaints by staff about food had only been made verbally and had not been logged. The biggest, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said there had been no formal complaints from staff about quality of food.

A spokesman for Taxpayer Scotland said: “It’s a shame that we pay so much for our health service but the value we get for meals appears to be slipping, especially since good food is part of good progress in clinical recovery.”

Dr Drew Walker, NHS Tayside Director of Public Health, said, “Thousands of meals are prepared every day across NHS Tayside sites and the catering department receives very positive feedback from patients and staff.

“The very small number of complaints made over the past five years is testament to the hard work of our catering staff who prepare a wide range of meals which are nutritionally balanced and cater for very specific dietary requirements.”

It emerged in January this year that New Year’s Day meals served in some Scottish hospitals cost less than half those dished up to prisoners. In 2012, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde stripped £1m from its catering budget.