Hospital’s charity shop decision slammed by food ambassador

League of Friends volunteers Lisa Taber and Linda Mallett with a petition to stop the closeure of th

League of Friends volunteers Lisa Taber and Linda Mallett with a petition to stop the closeure of the charity shop based at the James Paget University Hospital.Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A decision of a hospital to move its charity shop in favour of a commercial development has been slammed by an ambassador for hospital food.

It emerged this month that the James Paget University Hospital had made the decision to move its League of Friends charity shop from the foyer, to allow a new retailer to develop the foyer - believed to be M&S.

Mike Duckett, formerly catering manager at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, has now written to board members at the hospital expressing his disappointment at the decision.

His letter says: “Outsourcing is quite a really nonsensical approach to the wrong notion that the public needs the high street in our hospitals.

“Where this is done in other hospitals, the patients, staff and visitors are ripped off by a doubling of prices and with M&S it has been observed that their products are higher than their high street equivalent.”

Mr Duckett added that moving the League of Friends would come as “a loss to the trust of a valuable income and the loyal community that has served the hospital over the past years, who are well known to give comfort to the patients staff and visitors”.

He added: “I doubt this will come from any retail consortium staffing.”

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In response, hospital head of facilities management Nichola Hicks, said: “The decision to re-develop our front foyer is driven by a need to replace existing facilities, a desire to increase choice for our patients and visitors, while creating income for our Trust, which is currently facing a projected financial deficit.

“Our existing catering facility in the foyer - Paget Café - is cramped, ageing, out-dated and no longer fit for purpose.

“To address this, our estates and facilities team have looked at options for redeveloping this area, and after a great deal of planning work, have chosen a scheme which will see the creation of more modern, spacious catering facilities.

“These will be developed at no cost to the trust and will provide a source of income that will be used to support healthcare at our hospital.”

The Friends say they had been offered two options - either a cabin in the hospital grounds or finding a retail premises in town, but these would not be sustainable financially.