‘This is the dish my ill baby son was served in hospital.... I wouldn’t feed it to a dog’

Food served to a six month old sick baby at Craigavon Area Hospital INLM0313 001
Food served to a six month old sick baby at Craigavon Area Hospital INLM0313 001

THIS plate of hospital food proved to be the “final straw” for the father of a six-month-old baby who says the “disgusting” dish is one of a catalogue of complaints he has against Craigavon Area Hospital following a three-month battle to have him properly diagnosed.

Baby James Brennan was first brought to Craigavon’s Accident and Emergency Department last October and his father Stevie Brennan claims that they were told there was nothing wrong with him.

Two weeks later the child was brought back to A&E where a doctor told his parents it was “just the weather”. However, after a second opinion by another doctor, James was diagnosed with bronchitis and immediately admitted to the paediatric ward.

James was discharged the next day, but the following day his parents brought him back to Craigavon Hospital where he was swiftly brought into resuscitation.

He was again admitted to the hospital and was treated with nebulisers and oxygen.

Despite his admission and treatment, James’ parents were forced to contact the Out of Hours service again on December 29, and upon examination by a doctor, he was diagnosed with bronchitis.

His parents claim that he was prescribed an inhaler which is only suitable for a child aged two and older.

Unhappy with the diagnosis, James’ parents visited his own GP on New Year’s Eve. The GP referred the six-month-old back to Craigavon hospital with a letter stating that James did not have bronchitis, and again on arrival at A&E, the child was brought to resuscitation and was re-admitted to the ward until being released on January 4.

“He was blue and clearly struggling to breathe,” said Stevie.

It was at this last admission that doctors diagnosed James as having a severe infection and asthma and he was treated with antibiotics, a nebuliser and oxygen.

The first night James’ parents asked for baby food and were given SMA Staydown as he is lactose intolerant. However when that ran out, the nurses had to order the food from the pharmacy. The family claim that this never arrived and the family had to bring in their own food for him. They say that they even had to leave the hospital to go to late opening stores to find the food.

The parents had been asking staff to help with heating up the food they had brought in and eventually one member of staff suggested getting pureed food from the canteen.

They ordered what was described as pureed roast chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans.

“That is the muck we got sent up. It was so piping hot an adult could not even touch it let alone eat it. The food was also clearly burned to a crisp and inedible.

“I said to the nurse, how is a six month old baby supposed to eat that. She was disgusted herself,” said Stevie.

“We sent it back and they sent up another plate which was just as bad,” he added.

“I held the plate vertically and the food was stuck solid to the plate.

“The food was a disgrace, disgusting. I wouldn’t serve it to a dog.”

The Trust was repeatedly asked for a statement on this particular dish and their view on the hospital serving this meal to a six month old sick baby.

However they failed to respond to this particular question and referred the Mail to this statement:

“Catering services are an essential part of patient and client care and we pride ourselves in providing safe, good quality, nutritious meals as a vital part of rehabilitation and recovery.

“Our main hospital kitchens produce around 21,000 meals each week for patients and staff.

“We conduct regular quality checks of the food provided on wards and our last patient meal survey showed that 90% of respondents rated their meal experience as Excellent or Good, 9% as Acceptable and no one said that their experience of food at Craigavon Area Hospital was Poor.

“Some comments in this survey included “Keep the standard up because it makes a stay in hospital so much better helping you feel better and the stay in quicker” and “Overall standard and choice of meals is excellent - with generous portions. Staff could not be more helpful.”

“Our staff are committed to doing all they can to facilitate individual requests if they are made aware of them and on those few occasions when patients are not satisfied with the food they receive, will be more than happy to address it if raised immediately.”

A spokesperson from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said: “We endeavour to provide safe and high quality care at all times and take all comments and complaints made in relation to our service extremely seriously.

“We always welcome patient feedback so that we can improve our care where possible and would encourage people with any issues to raise these directly with staff so they can be addressed immediately.

“We would ask this father to please contact us directly so that we can fully investigate his concerns and provide him with a timely response.”