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Royal Surrey County Hospital

Case Study

Royal Surrey County Hospital (part of the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust) is a 550-bed acute hospital which is also home to the specialist St Luke’s Cancer Centre. Located in Guildford, the hospital provides services to residents of Surrey as well as the neighbouring counties of Hampshire and West Sussex.

Medirest, has a long-standing partnership with the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, and has provided catering services at Royal Surrey since 1994. In 2014, the scope of the contract was extended further with the addition of other services, including portering, cleaning and switchboard. In 2018 this was extended by another 10 years, including the retail services of a Costa Coffee and Marks & Spencer. Waste services were added in 2021 and car parking, alongside external security in 2022.

In the Summer of 2022, the partnership between Medirest and the Trust saw the hospital named an NHSE Exemplar site for the team’s response to the Hospital Food Review, including assessors taking a comprehensive look at Medirest’s patient dining offer, Steamplicity. Introduced to the hospital in 2018, the concept has made a positive impact on the patient experience – delivering patient satisfaction scores of 98%, achieved by focussing on three areas: choice, temperature and quality.

Meal choice has been improved since its inception, as the full menu is available at all mealtimes, which means over 25 hot main courses, plus 13 cold choices. This includes over 35% vegetarian and vegan meals, as well as those that cater for other allergen requirements. The other positive outcomes of the system include a reduction in food waste and energy savings. The main kitchen was refurbished in 2018 and as part of this Medirest was able to free up 141m2 of space.

Gary Mountjoy, Associate Director of Estates and Facilities at Royal Surrey Hospital, said: “This system released over 30,000 hours annually back to our clinical colleagues to allow them to focus more time on patient care. The system provides a service where food is cooked at ward level, offering flexibility and consistency in ordering the nutritious and tasty meals.”

The Catering team work closely with dietitians and other clinical departments, fully recognising patients may need additional help such as, meal selection; different menu formats, therapeutic diet menus and a red meal tray system is in use to indicate when a patient requires help with eating or when a food and drink intake record chart is required. Electronic patient meal ordering tablets are in use; meals are ordered just a couple of hours before the meal service creating further efficiencies.

Gareth Donaldson, Operations Director at Compass Group UK & Ireland – Healthcare said: “The key to the successful partnership and the ongoing implementation of these high standards has been the collaborative approach between, clinical teams and Medirest. This alongside training and development of team members ensures that the food offer evolves in line with legislation and helping to establish best practice within the Trust.”  

Alongside this there was a £400,000 investment in staff and visitor catering services establishing the hospital’s Wellspring Restaurant and the creation of a wellness garden, to support wellbeing. The food concepts focus on a fresh, consumer-led offer that shows value-for-money and encourages healthy eating. The introduction of high street retail offers that operate 24/7, maximising technology to support flexibility and speed of service, were also identified as best practice.

Gary Mountjoy said:“A true, integrated partnership approach has allowed Medirest and our team to work side by side and achieve some forward-thinking examples of innovation over the years. From the introduction of the wellness garden, rolling out the Steamplicity catering system, various technology across the estate and 24/7 retail offers we have created and evolved a dynamic partnership that enables us to care for patients and staff in the best way possible.”

Russell Blake, MD – Healthcare Compass Group UK & Ireland commented: “There is no doubt the senior level support enabling us to embed a clear food and drink strategy, alongside investment and a joined-up approach have delivered high standards at Royal Surrey. The National Standards for Food and Drink in Healthcare shine a light on these issues, giving us the framework to make sure food is higher on the agenda more widely. We want to continue to evolve at Royal Surrey, whilst also setting consistent standards, tracking progress and sharing our experiences with others along the way.”

“There is never going to be a one size fits all solution, but I believe these new standards unite all NHS food provision to create overarching higher standards for those we serve. Of course, there will always be constraints within this hugely complex organisation, but we should see this as an opportunity to learn from each other and the Exemplar site accreditation gives us the platform to do that.”

In December 2022, Royal Surrey was also announced as achieving Exemplar site status for the early adoption to the new National Standards of Cleanliness – making it the first hospital to receive the accreditation and the first to have double recognition.


As seen in Public Sector Catering 

Exemplar status at Royal Surrey