COMMERCIAL: Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has launched new “Essential Goodness” menus and food, in partnership with catering contractor OCS.

The improved food for inpatients is part of a new contract encompassing all catering for patients staying in hospital, outpatients, visitors and staff, according to a press release from the trust.

The new Essential Goodness main menu uses symbols to highlight options that are healthy eating, high energy and one of the “five a day” portions of fruit and vegetables, as well as soft and vegetarian options.

In addition to the main menu, OCS has developed specialist menus offering more choice to patients with specific dietary requirements, for example Halal, gluten-free, low potassium and puree.

Chief dietitian Sarah Havard said: “What’s unusual is that we are now offering a la carte menus to people on diets with specific requirements, giving them greater choice and variety in their food.”

Trust deputy chief executive Valerie Bartlett added: “Our main aim in bringing all catering services into one contract was to improve the quality of food for patients staying in hospital, and ensure that we are providing the best nutrition to patients to support their treatment and care.”

Essential Goodness branding has been added to catering staff uniforms, trolleys and crockery so inpatient catering services are clearly recognisable across the trust.