Hospital cooks a thousand festive dinners

Fretting about serving up Christmas dinner for your extended family this year?

Well spare a thought for the people who will be serving up a thousand festive dinners to patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

As well as the hundreds of staff they will be feeding, there are 17 different variations on the traditional turkey lunch they will have to cook to meet the patients' strict dietary requirements.

Nayab Haider, contract director for Serco, said: 'It's a challenge but people appreciate the effort.

'Christmas is about the social side, about getting together as a family and celebrating by eating together.

'I think the whole nursing team, the housekeepers and caterers make that effort to make sure patients feel like they are part of the hospital family and don't feel left out.'

The menus are specially designed by a team of specialists, dieticians and caterers to ensure they meet the needs of the patients. Mr Haider said it was also important for them to offer choice to patients.

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There are 12 kitchens at the hospital, providing 3,000 meals a day. Serco also provides around 3,500 meals for staff.

Each year Serco invite local schoolchildren to design a Christmas card, and the designs are used as festive covers for the menus and given to patients. This year, the cards were made by pupils at Heather Avenue Infant School in Hellesdon, Stoke Holy Cross Primary School, Queen's Hill Primary School in Cotessey, Ashleigh Infant School in Wymondham, Clover Hill Infant School in Bowthorpe and at primary schools in West Earlham and Costessey.

If you have a story which breaks over Christmas, call our on-call festive reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email