Tuesday, 15 March 2011
That's one way to make them take notice
So the 59-year-old from Millbrook launched a county court case and won a legal judgement ordering the contract catering company to pay him back the money. Now Mr Cooper hopes other unhappy hospital diners will follow his lead and force catering and health bosses to take action to improve the food. But Medirest bosses dispute Mr Cooper’s claims and say they did not defend the case because “the relevant personnel” did not receive the court papers until after the deadline for response – despite Mr Cooper delivering them by hand a fortnight earlier.
Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust (SUHT) awarded private company, Medirest, the five-year £17m contract in 2009, to supply meals that are pre-prepared in St Albans, Hertfordshire and then steamed in microwaves in ward kitchens. Hospital bosses insisted that a four-week action plan early last year had improved standards. But disgusted at the food offered to him in October, retired lorry driver Mr Cooper made the trip down to the canteen every mealtime.
Mr Cooper, who is due to return to hospital for another operation in 12 weeks, said: “If I had pigs I wouldn’t even feed them the hospital food I was given. I would have rather starved than eat anything they served up for me. It is a disgrace.
“I’m not looking forward to going in again but I have told my wife to get the rolls and sandwiches ready because I will not eat what they have to offer.”
After serving the Southampton County Court papers to Medirest himself last month, the company failed to respond. Now the court has ordered the company to pay Mr Cooper the full £200 he had claimed.
Mr Cooper said: “I hope I have started something here and that other people might follow in my footsteps. If Medirest gets a flurry of people claiming against them I am sure they will be forced to take action.”
Medirest claims that the latest survey revealed more than 70 per cent of patients were very satisfied with the food. A spokesman said: “We dispute Mr Cooper’s claim and had the relevant Medirest personnel been aware of the claim being issued we would have taken the necessary steps to defend this. However, on the basis that the judgement has been entered we will abide by the court’s decision in this particular case.”
© Southern Daily Echo