Food for thought

PUBLISHED: 11:07 27 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010

SIR – Last week s front page of your paper carried a banner headline that patients meals provided by the West Herts Hospital Trust (WHHT), which runs the three hospitals in our area, is cheaper than the food provided by almost all other NHS Trusts. This

SIR - Last week's front page of your paper carried a banner headline that patients' meals provided by the West Herts Hospital Trust (WHHT), which runs the three hospitals in our area, is cheaper than the food provided by almost all other NHS Trusts.

This headline presentation of admittedly-surprising data gives the average reader an impression that our hospitals skimp on quality, an idea even bolstered by your editorial column which asks, plaintively "how does WHHT do it". A fair question perhaps, but I have a different one - "why do you, the Herts Advertiser, do it?"

Why do you blow up the statistical data about food costs - obviously implying some failure by the Trust - while failing to give equal attention to the fact that between 80 and 93 per cent of patients surveyed in the three hospitals (97 per cent in Watford) thought the overall quality of their meals was "good or better"? These findings you relegate to a mere mention a couple of lines down in the front-page piece, effectively swamping them with the negative line you seem to be keen on.

As a voluntary member of a watchdog panel of users (not funded by the Trust), I frequently inspect wards in all three hospitals, observe the way lunches are served and nearly always taste the food on the spot. With rare exceptions the meals are invariably pretty good and patients, knowing that I am not a hospital employee, confirm the comments reported in the surveys. "Very tasty", "better than I get at home" and "this is fantastic" are among comments I recall.

Of course hospital services are not always perfect, but in regard to patients' meals, the negative image of your piece is quite unjustified. For a change let's hear it for the good things.

DON WILLIAMSON,

Tippendell Lane, St Albans.

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