About the Trust
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Evelina Children’s Hospital, which are part of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, are two of London’s most famous teaching hospitals, providing patients with excellent treatment and care from central London sites near Waterloo and London Bridge.
Hospital food standards
With a focus on improving the whole patient experience across the entire organisation, the Trust’s Group Catering Manager, Robert Cormack, put a goal in place to achieve the Bronze level Catering Mark in 2016.
The Catering Mark’s focus on nutrition, freshness, traceability, sustainability and animal welfare and it fits well alongside consumers’ increasing interest in food traceability and sustainability. And, the award is helping caterers to demonstrate that they are serving freshly prepared high quality food that meets the needs and expectations of their customers.
Robert explains: “The main driver for me in my role, on behalf of the Trust, is to continually improve the food experience for anyone that uses our facilities. The Trust is focused on improving the whole patient experience, and food is very much a part of that.
I also read about how Government is looking to implement further food standards into healthcare in five to eight years’ time, so I wanted to get ahead of the game. I work for an extremely prestigious Trust and believe it is vital to demonstrate the focus we have on quality: the Catering Mark delivers impartial recognition of this.
Working towards the award
So I started to focus on working towards the Bronze certification. My first step was to gather all the information to see where any shortfalls or gaps were, so changes could be made.
Working with our procurement partner Pelican, a review of all menus took place to identify which products needed to switch while at the same time reviewing the pricing to try and negate any increases in expenditure.
The biggest challenge for us is to ensure that any changes made to our purchasing does not increase spend and so this needed to be factored in. As an example, we had worked with a sandwich supplier for many years, which provided very good quality sandwiches, however they did not offer a Farm Assured range. So Pelican managed a tender bid for us, which included tasting, sampling and reviewing packaging, and we were able to identify an alternative supplier, who was not only farm assured and of the same quality, but in fact also delivered us a financial saving.
Once we agreed all the suppliers and products we were going to use, we then had to gather all the evidence and certification i.e. all the proof-points required by the Soil Association as part of the Catering Mark inspection process.
We already cooked a lot of our recipes from fresh, which is one of the requirements, so we had a good platform to work from. The process towards achieving the Bronze standard is very worthwhile as it gives you an opportunity to review current practices and make adjustments where needed.
The Bronze award
Following the inspection, we were awarded the Bronze in July 2016. Everybody at Guys’ & St Thomas’s were thrilled, as having this awards opens up new opportunities for the Trust.
We have a production kitchen here and by achieving the Catering Mark it enables us to also look at external trade opportunities, which is a new element for us. For example, Serco has won a bid with Barts Hospital and, because we have the Bronze standard in place, we are eligible to supply the food to Barts. A contract agreement has since been approved and we now supply an extra 4,500 meals a day to Barts as a result!
All of our menus now carry information relating to the Food For Life Catering Mark, demonstrating the Trust’s focus on sustainability, welfare and ethically sourced products.
It’s been a great journey – very worthwhile; our staff are proud of what we have achieved and enjoy passing the details on to patients and visitors. It really shows that, as an organisation, we do care and that we put patients first.
I’m interested in now seeing whether the Silver standard is viable for us. The only potential barrier is the financial cost pressure, however I’m talking to the team at Pelican to see whether it is feasible.
We need to be realistic of course, as the volumes and quality standards we work to may not make this possible, however Pelican has been instrumental in helping us achieve the right quality of service and products, at the right prices to date, and so it is worth exploring what is possible for the future.”
One of the big challenges for caterers is ensuring suppliers are able to help them meet the requirements, and be able to provide the right evidence and certification which is required as part of the Catering Mark’s inspection processes.
Here at Pelican, we have become a member of the Soil Association’s Catering Mark Supplier Scheme to fully support our customers in successfully gaining the Catering Mark award. As such, we are able to not only source products that fit within the Bronze, Silver and Gold criteria, but we understand the inspection process and can help caterers overcome challenges and prepare the evidence.
A real advantage is that we already have the supplier relationships in place, work with clients to create ‘locked in’ purchasing lists, and have online systems that track the details of all products, making it far easier and quicker to be able to track and monitor progress, in addition to access the evidence needed to demonstrate compliance.
Reports can be produced outlining product and supplier compliance, purchase histories can be documented and help is on hand from experts who have been working with the standard since it was created in 2009.
To find out more about the Catering Mark, and how Pelican can help your business – please contact Anna-Maria Holt BSc Hons. RD, member of British Dietetic Association and Company Dietitian at Pelican Procurement Services at firstname.lastname@example.org