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More than 500,000 meals ordered cross-bay using innovative electronic system

2 January 2020

An innovative electronic system which allows staff on 10 of the wards at Furness General Hospital (FGH) to order inpatient meals on the same day has seen a staggering 175,678 meals ordered since it was introduced in April 2018.

The eMeals system has reduced food wastage by an average of 49% since it was introduced at both FGH and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.  This equates to a saving of £26,000 which is a reflection of the Trust’s commitment to saving money and becoming more eco-friendly and efficient.

Before the new system staff would have had to fill in a paper form and take it to catering staff a day in advance – this could mean that if a patient’s appetite changed meals could be wasted. The old paper process could take ward staff up to one hour 30 minutes to complete – so staff time has also been saved by using the new system.

The system also flags patients who have food allergies or need a specialist diet such as gluten-free, low sodium or ethnic diet, giving the catering team greater control to ensure patients receive a meal suitable for their needs.

At the RLI 325,935 meals have been ordered across 15 wards since November 2017 and 1,699 meals have been ordered for two wards at Westmorland General Hospital since October 2019. Over all three sites, 503,312 meals have been ordered to date.

Tracy Litt, Catering Manager, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “The system has many benefits and we have total control of any specialist diets. It has also helped us to build stronger relationships with staff on the wards. At the moment we have 10 wards on the system but are hoping to go-live in maternity, the day unit and CCU in the near future.”

Andy Wicks, Chief Information Officer, UHMBT, said: “This is a great example of how innovative technology is transforming the way staff work to ensure our hospitals offer the best patient care and experience.”

Keith Griffiths, Director of Finance, UHMBT, added: “An astounding 503,312 meals have been ordered across the three sites using this innovative piece of software, which has reduced the Trust’s carbon footprint and food wastage as well as saving a substantial sum of money – a perfect example of how a sensible change has made a big impact.”

Patient satisfaction has improved thanks to the new system and feedback has included:

“The way you can order your meal is much better now that it’s on an Android tablet– it felt a bit overwhelming on paper. The quality of the food has always been fantastic at the hospital.”

The eMeals app was created by the Trust’s I3 and Catering teams. Staff feedback shaped the design of the app, including having clear deadlines for ordering meals and the ability to order items such as custard separately.

The new ordering system allows meals to ‘follow the patient’ should they be transferred to another ward, as well as providing for swift cancellations if they are discharged.

If a patient is discharged out of hours, a take-home food bag is made available. These bags ensure patients will be able to have food and a hot drink once they arrive home.