Canterbury DHB has announced that it will take over management of all food services from 1 July 2017, after the current Compass Group contract expires on 30 June.
Chief executive David Meates said in September last year Canterbury DHB advised Health Partnerships Limited (NZHPL) that it would not be signing up to the national food service contract.
"Our intention is that all current food services staff are retained by Canterbury DHB and we don't expect the public to notice any difference in the food services provided in our hospitals," Mr Meates says.
"Canterbury DHB is in a unique position among DHBs in having a well-established, proven and fully-owned, Cook-Chill production unit capable of providing bulk menu items to all Canterbury DHB hospitals; this is the only one of its kind in NZ and has been in use constantly since 2007."
After February 22, 2011 this system enabled the Canterbury DHB to continuously offer nutrititious menu choices to all patients whilst food supplies and deliveries into the city were compromised by the earthquakes.
"We will maintain our current high quality and high standards of food production and service across all our hospitals.
All current services – cafes for the staff and public, meal provision across our hospitals and meals on wheels will be maintained, he says.
"Our food service enjoys high levels of customer satisfaction and we won't be doing anything to jeopardise the quality of food or service. We will be using the same food production methods as we currently do for patient meals, meals on wheels and staff meals. Over time we plan to enhance the range of healthy choices available.
"We have indicated to Compass that it's our intention to offer employment to all 300 workers and their managers currently employed by Compass Group. It's our intention that they will be employed by Canterbury DHB from 1 July on the same terms and conditions as their current contracts, and they will enjoy additional benefits as Canterbury DHB employees.
"I would like to acknowledge the 13 years' service and valued relationship we've had with Compass who took over the contract back in 2004. Up until that point the services had been provided by a mix of in house, outsourced and joint management contracts; prior to which all food services were in-house."
Mr Meates says that between now and 1 July there's a lot of behind the scenes details to work through and the Canterbury DHB will continue to work cooperatively with Compass/Medirest, their staff, and union to ensure a smooth transition for all.
Canterbury DHB continues to support the New Zealand Health Partnerships programme to develop national nutritional guidelines for all hospitals and we continue to support the application of Key Performance Indicators/benchmarks to all DHB food service operations nationally.
Which sites are affected?
All sites which currently have Compass Group staff working in food services. We also have some Compass Group staff carrying out cleaning and orderly services in Ashburton – they too will be offered employment with Canterbury DHB from 1 July this year.
Christchurch Hospital – approximately 150 staff
Burwood Hospital – approximately 60 staff
Hillmorton Hospital site – approximately 40 staff
Ashburton Hospital site – approximately 40 staff (includes orderlies and cleaners) + also provides services for Tuarangi Home
The Princess Margaret Hospital Site – approximately 10 staff
Who provides the meal service at the other Canterbury DHB sites?
The services at Kaikoura Health Te Hā o Te Ora, Rangiora Health Hub, Oxford and Waikari Hospitals, Darfield, Ellesmere, Leeston, Lincoln Maternity and the Chatham Islands Hospital are either provided in-house or by a local provider – these services will be unaffected.
What does 'meal service' include?
It includes all the meals and beverages for patients, including those with a wide range of dietary requirements, Meals on Wheels, and the provision of food in cafes which are open to staff and the public at Christchurch Women's Hospital, Christchurch Hospital, Burwood Hospital, Ashburton Hospital, Hillmorton Hospital, and The Princess Margaret Hospital. The service aspect includes taking patient's orders from the menu, collating and processing the orders, and delivery and serving meals to inpatients, and clearing away meal trays after each meal. It also includes ensuring patients have fresh jugs of iced water available and serving hot drinks and snacks to patients on wards where appropriate throughout the day.
Canterbury DHB prepares and serves more than one million patient meals each year.
More than 120,000 meals on wheels are delivered by volunteers to Canterbury people each year.
Will the DHB be changing the menus, buying in more pre-prepared food in bulk?
We will be using the same production methods and hope to be using the same suppliers after 1 July. Over time we will be looking to enhance the range of quality healthy food options available to patients, staff and the public. Where possible and economic to do so, we would also like to source more local providers of ingredients and fresh produce.
How much will the DHB save by providing food services in-house, compared to going with the national contract?
For commercially-sensitive reasons, we cannot discuss the actual amount, however savings are in the order of millions of over the next 14 years.
What sort of roles will this change cover?
It will cover a range of staff from site managers, located at the various sites, to catering associates, kitchen assistants, cooks, food supervisors, retail staff and administration staff.
Is Canterbury the only DHB providing its food service in-house?
No. A number of DHBs already provide in-house food services, however, Canterbury is the only DHB to have an in-house cook-chill production unit, which means fresh food can be prepared to enable quality meals with an extended shelf life.
How does the current food rate, in terms of customer satisfaction?
Patients are currently surveyed every six months, and Canterbury DHB patients consistently rate the hospital meals highly, with 80-90% of respondents saying the meal service was satisfactory or better.
Does the DHB have any plans to cut the number of food services staff?
Absolutely not – this is a vitally important service, and we will need all the current staff to continue to provide the current high standard of food and services.
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