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Holiday healthcare heroes: The team who serve up Christmas dinner on the wards

James Paget University Hospital catering team. Photo: JPUH

James Paget University Hospital catering team. Photo: JPUH

JPUH

Throughout advent, we’re highlighting those who work hard throughout the year - and at Christmas - to keep Norfolk and Waveney’s health service ticking over.

James Paget University Hospital catering team. Photo: JPUH James Paget University Hospital catering team. Photo: JPUH

This countdown of those we count on will focus on a different person or individual every day up until Christmas, celebrating our healthcare heroes.

James Paget University Hospital catering team

As families across Norfolk tuck into a Christmas dinner, a dedicated team at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston will be making sure that patients can do the same.

The hospital’s catering team plays an important role preparing nutritious food for patients as a vital ingredient in their recovery.

They also make sure that a full menu is available to staff and visitors to the hospital at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – including over the festive period.

In total, the team of eight chefs and 70 catering assistants prepare 2,000 meals per day. This includes over 400 meals - three times per day - for patients, prepared according to their dietary needs, which mean there are menus for those who are diabetic or need high protein, low potassium or nut-free food.

The hospital’s kitchen – which prepares meals served on the wards, and in the staff and public restaurants – operates like a well-oiled machine, working to a strict time-table which starts at 6am when the chefs cooks the porridge for breakfast and get started on the lunch menu.

“Christmas day can be hard for patients who would rather be at home with their families than in hospital. But we hope that providing a traditional Christmas lunch with all the trimmings for patients and staff, including crackers, on 25 December will help spread a little festive cheer,” said Nichola Hicks, who is responsible for the catering team as head of facilities management.

Nichola joined the James Paget after starting her career in the hotel industry.

“Catering is my passion and I always want the service to provide the best nutritious food, locally sourced whenever possible, and prepared with care,” said Nichola.

“The patients’ menus feature traditional dishes and we try to accommodate patients’ wishes. It is not always possible but we do go out of our way if someone hasn’t eaten for a while and suddenly fancies something. I recall a 100 year old patient who had refused food for a couple of days, and we asked her if there is anything that we could tempt her with. Her reply was pancakes – so we made pancakes.”

• To read about other holiday health heroes, click on a door on the advent calendar above.

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