Patient's evening meal that Mater Hospital described as 'exceptionally good food'
ONE of the country's biggest hospitals, which served up this evening meal to a 70-year-old patient, has defended its food as "exceptionally good".
Sean De-Claine says he was so shocked by the tea, presented to his father Frank in the Mater in Dublin, that he took photos of the savoury mince and potato slice meal to highlight food standards in the hospital.
Grandfather Frank De-Claine, from East Wall, has been hospitalised with a lung complaint for three weeks and claims he has been receiving meals like this one -- and others he described as even less appetising -- since he was admitted.
"The food is what I would describe as generally of a poor quality, but when I saw that meal I thought it was particularly bad," said Sean.
"I don't think food of that quality should be given to patients in this day and age.
"I understand there are cuts everywhere, but it would take a lot to convince me that that meal is down to cuts in the health service."
The Herald has learned that the head of catering at the Mater last night visited Mr De-Claine and apologised to him for the meal.
But a spokeswoman for the Mater defended the food.
She said that "staff in the Mater Hospital take great care to present well-balanced, nourishing meals for patient consumption", and added that the hospital rarely had complaints.
She said great emphasis is placed on the nutritional content of food for patients and staff alike and insisted that all menus are nutritionally analysed.
"In 2013, the catering department's central production unit was once again in receipt of the prestigious Q mark Level 3 Emerald at a very high percentage mark of 81pc," the spokeswoman told the Herald.
"Given the restricted budget allocated to patient meal production, patient meals in the Mater Hospital are exceptionally good."
However, Sean, who has worked in the food preparation area for 16 years, said the same meal could very simply be made to look a lot more appetising.
"You could easily take that same food and present it in a more appealing way," he said.
"Patients are going in there to be healed, and I doubt they are getting anything out of food like that."
He said he contacted patient services in the hospital and the HSE, and both groups acknowledged receipt of his complaint.
The hospital spokeswoman said patients disappointed with food service should ask to speak to a catering officer.