Patients at Birmingham’s new £559million hi-tech superhospital look set to be served up airline-style ready meals – because bosses have not got the budget to build kitchens to cook food on site.
Millions is being pumped into creating the first new hospital in Birmingham for more than 70 years, but it has emerged that no hot meals can be cooked in the building and will have to be bought in.
Shocked Coun James Hutchings, a governor at University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust, revealed he was told there was “no budget” to build kitchens and hire catering staff.
He said hospital chiefs had looked instead at doing the cheaper alternative of contracting food in from a catering company.
Freshly cooked meals are currently made at Selly Oak and Queen Elizabeth hospitals, which the superhospital will replace.
It comes after Trust bosses have already made cutbacks to plans, mothballing 108 of the 1,213 beds before the hospital has even opened.
Coun Hutchings (Edgbaston, Cons) said: “The governors were told there was no budget for a new kitchen in the new hospital. Most of the governors were surprised when they heard this, as we assumed fresh food would be cooked in the hospital. There will be more than 1,000 people a day to feed so trust executives are looking at contracts with the airline catering industry, who know how to prepare huge numbers of meals, or pay nearby Heartlands Hospital to provide food. We just want to make sure the quality and standard of catering is maintained.”
Heartlands Hospital has its own kitchens and runs them as a catering business, manufacturing chilled and frozen food for other businesses in the region to make more money.
But Morag Jackson, new hospital director for the Foundation Trust, said: “There will be kitchens on site for preparing meals for special dietary needs and other fresh foods such as salads.”