STAFF at Fiona Stanley Hospital are being told to reduce the number of snack boxes they hand out after it was revealed WA Health is paying Serco $600,000 a year for them on top of patient meal costs.
Private contractor Serco Australia operates facilities management and support services at Fiona Stanley Hospital including catering.
As with all meals, Fiona Stanley Hospital pays Serco for the snack boxes, which vary in cost from about $6 to $9 each.
The Meals in Time working group at the hospital is calling on nurses and catering staff to reduce snack box usage and ensure patients get hot meals during meal times.
A South Metropolitan Health Service spokeswoman said the hospital had recently commenced a trial to reduce the quantity of snack boxes provided to patients during meal times when a hot meal could be ordered instead.
“At Fiona Stanley Hospital snack boxes are intended for situations where patients have recently arrived to a ward and need a meal outside scheduled meal times, or are in an area that doesn’t typically have a meal service provided, for example the emergency department,” she said.
“Fiona Stanley Hospital continues to look for ways to improve the patient experience and listen to patient feedback, and the clear preference of patients is to have a full ‘plated’ meal instead of a snack box.”
Health Minister Roger Cook said the trial should help ensure the snack boxes were only being used when appropriate.
“The Sustainable Health Review interim report released at the end of last month identified the need to find efficiencies in the provision of our health services, this is a grass roots example of such action,” he said.
“The trial will look for ways to improve the patient experience and provide a meal that meets the hospital’s nutrition and food safety requirements.”
Last year meal times at the hospital were extended by 30 minutes to give patients more time to access hot food.