An innovative electronic system which allows staff on the wards at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary to order inpatient meals on the same day has reduced food wastage by an average of 49% since it was introduced in July 2018. 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 system was rolled out at FGH between August and October 2018.
Since the system swap, a staggering 359,819 meals have been ordered on 20 wards at RLI and nine wards at FGH. 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.
Jackie O’ Brien, Catering Manager, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “The reduction of food wastage has been staggering and something we’re really proud of. The new system has saved time for catering supervisors’ as they no longer have to count meal numbers. The new system does this automatically for them. So they have more time to better provide the services that focus on patient improvements.”
Keith Griffiths, Director of Finance, UHMBT, added: “An astounding 149,267 meals have been ordered, at the Trust since 1 January 2019, 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.
Lisa Winn, Ward Manager for the RLI’s Lancaster Suite, UHMBT, added: “Patient care and experience is at the heart of what we do and we’ve had some fantastic feedback from patients on the meals since this system was introduced.
“It’s also provided a fantastic opportunity for staff on the wards to work more closely with other departments, helping provide a highly efficient service, putting the patient at the forefront while creating measurable cost savings.”
A patient on the Lancaster Suite added: “The way you can order your meal is much better now that it’s on an iPad – it felt a bit overwhelming on paper. The quality of the food has always been fantastic at the hospital.”
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.