The food service on the maternity unit at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey has been overhauled to offer a better range of choices and more flexibility on when women can have their meals.

Explains Head of Hotel Services William Britton: “We have to cater for everyone’s tastes and in reality, an elderly patient who feels very unwell in their 80s or 90s wants different food to a younger woman who has given birth but is otherwise in good health. Maternity is also very unpredictable – women can be admitted anytime during the day or night; so sometimes we are catering for 20 people and other times up to 50.”

The challenge was to create a new menu which appeals to the women’s taste buds and cuts out waste by providing high quality meals to order. Women can now pick from traditional choices such as soup, sandwiches and salads, plus a new selection of twelve hot dishes which are individually heated up on demand.

William said: “The new dishes on trial include favourites such as chicken tikka and lasagne and each meal has a bar code, which tells a high tech microwave exactly how long to heat it for, so the contents are cooked just right. The meals are prepared individually in the ward kitchen and delivered to the woman’s bed on a tray by a member of the housekeeping team. The beauty of this system is its flexibility - if a woman is suddenly admitted we can quickly prepare a meal for them and they are no longer reliant on being on the ward when the trolley comes around.”

The trial is being funded by the catering company, OCS, for three months, and is part of a larger project to develop maternity services at the hospital as an increasing number of local women choose to have their baby there. A refurbishment of the labour ward was recently completed, so all rooms are now ensuite and the Trust recently won an All Party Parliamentary Award on Maternity Services for their unique birth reflections service.

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