Hospitable food in Darent Valley in Dartford to get an upgrade with a fresh looking canteen and ordering app in progress

Hospitable food isn’t often known to have a good reputation, but that could all be about to change in an NHS trust.

Meals on the wards at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford are ready for a boost and health overhaul under a new five-year contract.

Restaurant and catering facilities ready for overhaul at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford

Medirest, the NHS-oriented healthcare division of food service company Compass Group UK & Ireland, has partnered with Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust to bring streamlined services and innovations to the provider’s healthcare facilities.

A new agreement has been reached to provide support services such as catering, cleaning, porterage, security and hospitality – with 300 colleagues transferred to the group.

This means that patients will now have access to food provided by Steamplicity, Medirest’s unique patient catering solution, as well as new meal ordering technology.

Created by chefs and dieticians, meals are steamed with fresh, raw ingredients in less than five minutes and served on the ward.

The new menu offers nearly 30 dishes for lunch and dinner, catering to a range of dietary needs.

A nurse serving a meal to a patient.  Photo: Think Stock
A nurse serving a meal to a patient. Photo: Think Stock

Around 35% of the options are vegetarian and vegan and the group uses a closed-loop recycling system for tray packaging as part of the group’s campaign towards zero net climate commitments.

In addition to a menu upgrade, the hospital’s restaurant will also receive a facelift to create spaces for people to relax, cool off, and enjoy food and drink.

A Wellspring restaurant will be introduced, with modules specially designed for informal meetings, an ordering app and digital screens to improve wait times.

There will also be a commitment to support local suppliers, such as Paul Rhodes Bakery, Change Please Coffee, Solley’s Ice Cream and Kent chips, as well as a bimonthly street food event, featuring local suppliers.

Last year, the government presented its Hospital Food Improvement Project in response to a directed independent review.

He found that high-quality hospital food can improve staff well-being and speed patient recovery.

Food in hospitals set to be improved under new government plans
Food in hospitals set to be improved under new government plans

While 58% of patients rate hospital food very good or good, 39% of hospital staff rate the catering and catering facilities offered in their workplace as poor, according to a most recent survey by NHS England.

Technological innovation is also part of Trust’s new agreement, which will see the deployment of new AI tools to improve patient flow.

This revolutionary technology uses a geolocation system to map and dispatch work, track where work needs to be completed, configure deployment, and automatically update the porter team and hospital department requesting the work.

There will also be a new robot vacuum cleaner to focus on hot spots of contact points and cross infections.

Steve Cenci, Managing Director of Compass Group UK & Ireland – Healthcare, said: “This partnership brings synergies to life and brings innovation where it is needed in areas that are important to Darent Valley Hospital and Medirest.

“This practical technological device will improve the experience of anyone visiting the hospital. We have a comprehensive plan in place and we look forward to implementing it. “

Carolyn Lewis, Director of Estates, Facilities and Capital at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust said: “We would like to thank the support teams for all their commitment and dedication, especially during the most difficult times of the pandemic.

“We look forward to continuing to work alongside our colleagues as they move to Medirest.

“It is a very exciting time for the Trust and the enhanced services promise to be both revolutionary and exceptional.

“We are excited about all of the innovative solutions that will be introduced as a result of the change. “

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, which provide some services from the Darent Valley Hospital site, will also benefit from the latter partnership.

In May 2020, Medirest announced it would pay frontline healthcare workers, who support the NHS, the NHS equivalent program to change basic pay rates.

This means a pay rise for some colleagues as part of Darent Valley’s new contract.


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