In-patients’ satisfaction survey reveals hospital food is rated lowest among all categories

As per the patient’s satisfaction survey conducted by the Quality Assurance Division (QAD) in the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) 2021-2022, overall in-patient’s satisfaction rate is 89 percent, however, the patient-attendants were not satisfied with the free hospital food, and it has been rated the lowest among all.

An official from QAD, JDWNRH said the team focused on the wards that needed improvements, for instance, clarity on treatment, promptness on health, information on care, privacy, noise, response to the complains, friendliness of nurse, doctors and supporting staff, and quality of meal, etc. She said patients and attendants are fully satisfied with all the domains except for hospital meals.

JDWNRH has worked on many areas to improve the hospital meals, starting from buying a food warmer to food tray system. She said, in the beginning, attendants complained that by the time food reaches them, it is already cold, therefore, the hospital bought a food warmer, and started a food tray system which includes a spoon and a fork in 2021. She said the spoons always go missing when collecting back the food trays after meals.

According to JDWNRH, improvement has been made in the quality of food by adding healthy ingredients, and a meat item is served once in a week. But still, the complaints come in, mostly from the attendants.

Patients are admitted in the hospital for two or three days, and within that time period, the attendants have to put up with mainly vegetarian meals made with seasonal vegetables, like potatoes or beans.  The attendants then feel there is no variety in the hospital meals, she said.

Other complaints are on the need for cleanliness in food preparation and distribution, and the lack of salt and chilies in the curries. The official clarified that the priority is given to patients, so all meals for the patients are planned by a dietician, who looks into their medical conditions, she said.

She shared that when the patient’s attendant was allowed to bring their own home cooked food, they still complained that they were not getting the free three meals from the hospital. Similarly, there were many complaints about hospital food posted on the social media.

During the peak period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the complaints on hospital food increased because attendants were not allowed to bring their own home cooked meal inside the in-patients’ wards.

However, JDWNRH is not receiving as many complaints on the hospital food now, she said.

Although the patient’s attendant is allowed to bring in their own food through a pick-and-drop system, the hospital still prepares the same amount meals in a day. She said during the patient’s admission time, the nurses will verify the source of food. Although some of the attendants say they will be eating hospital meals, however, they eat home cooked meals, which is a wastage of hospital food and resources.

Meanwhile, JDWNRH prepares meals for 500 to 600 patients and their attendants, which comes to around more than 1,000 heads every day. Otherwise, the hospital used to prepare about 1,000 breakfast, lunch and dinner every day when the pick and drop system was stopped. All the 20 cooks in JDWNRH are well trained.

Sherub Gyeltshen, one of the JDWNRH cooks, said all the cooks start preparing breakfast for the patients and their attendants from 4:30 am every day. Not only do they cook, but they are multi-tasking, washing the dishes, serving the food and cleaning the kitchen. Most of the former cooks of JDWNRH have quit because cooking for 1,000 people is not an easy job. Luckily, patients and attendants are not complaining about the food much these days, and the cooks are satisfied to receive the appreciation, which is motivating.

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