Hospital serves fatty sausages and bridies to ill heart patients

A DOCTOR has called for greater focus on providing nutritious hospital food after her husband was served bridies and beans in a ward hours after he was admitted with a heart attack.

• Robert Mair and his wife Grace Campbell

Dr Grace Campbell, who is a senior medical officer, was horrified when nurses at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride offered her husband Robert Mair, also a doctor, the stodgy dish.

Dr Mair, 45, had become unwell at his home and was admitted to the hospital in the early hours of 24 May.

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He received an emergency angioplasty, a procedure where a small balloon is inflated to clear a blocked artery.

The operation was a success and he was told he would be home again within three days.

However during that time Dr Mair was bed-bound and offered hospital catering, which consisted mostly of processed meals.

As well as the bridie-based meal, the GP was offered helpings of sausages, cottage pie and haggis.

Dr Campbell, 46, attacked the standard of catering, claiming that in some cases the food was "unrecognisable".

She said: "The staff were very apologetic but they said that was all that was sent up for all the seriously ill patients in the coronary care unit.

"The poor staff were mortified as they served the meals which were at best inedible."

Mrs Campbell said that she was forced to bring meals into the hospital for her husband, "as if in a Third World country".

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Complaints about the catering at Hairmyres date back to 2001 and NHS Lanarkshire was among the health boards criticised in a report on the quality of hospital food in March.

It was one of four that received a "red rating" from a National Facilities Scotland report for failing to meet government standards. The report said that overall, Scotland's hospitals were failing to improve the meals provided for patients.

Brian Keighley, chairman of the British Medical Association Scotland, said of the Hairmyers incident:

"It is very important that nutrition is both adequate and appropriate.

"It is unfortunate that message was given by that production of food."

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of Scottish Patients Association, described the situation as "totally unacceptable".

She said: "The NHS is trying to educate patients about the dangers of an unhealthy diet. So why are they then giving them high cholesterol food that will end up killing them?

"The staff at the hospital should hang their heads in shame. Whoever is planning the meals there is not thinking."

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Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said everyone had the right to expect decent, nutritious food in hospital.

She added: "Earlier this year we published a review of hospital catering and I made clear that I expect all health boards to improve the nutritional quality and standards of food offered."

A spokesperson for NHS Lanarkshire said: "All inpatients are presented with nutritionally balanced menu choices, all of which are of nutritional value.

We are aware a complaint has been received and we will be fully investigating this."