Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 14:31 UK

Hospital meals form 'bingo game'

Hospital Food Bingo game
Most of the meals are "minced or very small chunks", the patient says

An NHS hospital patient disgusted by the food has put photographs online and challenged friends to identify meals in a game of "hospital food bingo".

But just as he struggled to identify meals without the menu card, his friends "kept getting it wrong", said the patient at a South West hospital.

"Everything is minced and slushy and overcooked," the 47-year-old, who does not want to be identified, said.

The Department of Health said most patients were satisfied with meals.

The patient has spent most of this year in hospital, suffering from a bone infection and broken leg, and is now in traction in an unnamed South West hospital.

The medical care he had received was "fabulous", "second to none", he said, but added: "It just so happens that the caterer isn't world class."

He started posting photographs of two meals a day on the social networking site Facebook, urging his friends to guess what they were.

"It was amazing - they were all joining in," he said. "Unfortunately, most of them couldn't guess what it was. They kept getting it wrong.

"Most of the food has got some kind of a white sauce, beige sauce or a brown sauce, you can't really guess what it is.

"It just does not look like conventional food."

Guesses range from curry - a popular suggestion despite him never having been served it - to cat sick, he says.

One of his friends then assembled a montage of all the photographs for the bingo game.

It had one mushroom in it - it was a nice mushroom as well
Traction Man, on his meal of braised beef in mushroom sauce

"It's very lighthearted but behind it all is a serious message," said the patient, who has also been blogging about his hospital stay under the pseudonym Traction Man.

"Have a bit of fun and maybe make a few people laugh, that was the original intention," he said.

"Then I thought, 'I have got a lot of weeks of this, how am I going to cope? I just cannot eat this.'"

The best meal he had been served was braised beef in a mushroom sauce, he said.

"I pretty well cleaned the plate up - not with very much relish, but I did.

"It had one mushroom in it - it was a nice mushroom as well. Other than that I don't think I have cleared a plate yet."

Patients could take longer to recover from illness without sufficient calories and nutrients, he said.

"Everything is minced and slushy and overcooked, and I guess that is the way that a lot of older patients need and want it," he said.

"If you are somebody who is a bit younger in need of vitamins and nutrition to mend a broken bone, it ain't going to work."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Good quality food for patients improves their health and their overall experience of services.

"The majority of patients are satisfied with the food they receive in hospitals, and we are working to improve services further."



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