Labour and unions behind Dunedin Hospital food debacle

Anonymous masks?  Unions banners?  Labour MPs?  This has nothing to do with food.

It is just rent a crowd led by the unions and Labour.

About 300 people carrying signs with slogans including ‘Stop the slop’ staged a protest today about the quality of Dunedin Hospital food.

The protest, organised by the Real Meals Coalition, called on the Southern District Health Board to cancel its food service contract with the Compass Group.

The coalition was led by the Labour Party, Green Party and New Zealand First and included Unions Otago, Unions Southland and Grey Power Southland.

Police attended the protest.  

Compass has had a rocky start implementing new menus in meals on wheels, patient meals, and staff cafes in the South, but has said it has made improvements.

Chants included ”Kick Compass Out” and placards included ”Where’s Your Moral Compass”.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt told the crowd Otago and Southland stood together to save neurosurgical services in 2010, and would win the fight against the poor quality hospital food.

No surprises who is ultimately behind the protests.

[The] protest will call for the Compass contract to be cancelled.

PSA Dunedin union organiser Julie Morton said, in spite of Compass’ claims that the standard of its food is high, the union was still getting the same level of complaints from both patients and staff in the city’s hospitals.

Ms Morton said she’d heard of one incident when a patient was served just a portion of mashed potato, due to errors in communication involving the new bedside ordering process.

All unions ever do is complain. They never have a solution…except for union staff to do the work.


– NZ Herald, RadioNZ


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  • Ruahine

    Ms Morton. You had better not find yourself at my house for dinner you will only get one portion of mashed potato. Same as I have.

    P.S. Thinking about booking into this DHB for my upcoming knee OP.

    • Miss McGerkinshaw

      Surely one portion of mashed potato is sufficient, what with the obesity problem ‘n all?

    • Mrs_R

      I believe the patient ONLY got a portion of mashed potato – nothing else. Is that all you would have for dinner? Having spent considerable time in hospital with a family member I have nothing but praise for the food served at Waikato Hospital. Hospital food has to have a nutritional component to it to assist the patient’s body regaining optimal health. This is even more important to those spending longer than 24 hrs in hospital care. I will also say in defense of the patient, disappointments and stress are always magnified when viewed through the eyes of an unwell person. To only receive mashed potato when they would have been waiting and looking forward to dinner would have been a disappointment, and believe me for many the meal times are the highlight in what is otherwise a very long, difficult, and tedious day.

  • john Doe

    No one has ever died from malnutrition due to hospital food. Saw the protest on TV yesterday. Just another noisy rabble wasting police and DHB resources. My other observation is that Tim Shadbolt needs to grow up.

    • Liz R

      Look closely at those faces in the crowd an you will see mainly elderly concerned faces. Certainly not a noisey rabble. No DHB resources used. Two traffic cops directed traffic.There was one young man with a mask. I am a retired health professional and I was there, This is first hand fact- not a PR exercise by a multinational company.

  • Sally

    Always thought people go to hospital because they are in need of medical help which the GP can’t give. Certainly don’t there for restaurants meals. Places like hospitals just like meals in economy class on planes are catering for the masses in the quickest and easiest way.

    • MaryLou

      Watching last night I thought that roast and gravy looked pretty yummy. But then I’ve never been accused of being a connoisseur.

      • Liz R

        It did look good. Its not what has been served to patients and Meals on wheels in the past 4 months. Lets see if if can be sustained.

  • Edward M Blake

    Before Compass took over the catering for Auckland hospital, after dealing with the original catering department I came to the conclusion that it was serving a vital social function. In the old days when you where lazy, antisocial and termanly stupid you worked for the railways or the council. Luckily the Auckland district health board did it’s part to fill that void.
    I do pity the people that have lost their job’s because they have no idea what it means to do real work with commercial reality. These people are stuck in the 1970’s and there is no rescuing them.
    Did I mention this has nothing to do with food. Just a bunch of cry bully’s.

    • Aucky

      Hillside Railway Workshops revisited…..zzzzzzzz.

      It’s not that difficult to find a few Labour supporters amongst the patients and staff in the Southern DHB, add a local high profile lefty polly plus Curran, rent a mob and then invite the MSM to come and help themselves.

      I didn’t actually see any of those investigative journos sample and comment on the food. Unusual, because there’s nothing journos like better than a free feed – unless it’s a free drink.

      • Carl

        The TV3 reporter ate it on the news last night. He tried a few meals and couldn’t complain about any of them.

        • biscuit barrel

          He was on a ‘guided tour’ of the kitchen, the photos of what the patients get is startling different.
          With high transport costs from Auckland to Dunedin, cant see how its saving much money having a centralized kitchen. After mashed potato isnt some complicated airline food

        • Liz R

          Compasss execs plus PR machine have been at Dunedin Hospital this week and there is no way they would give poor food to those that matter to them.

    • Dog Breath

      I spent weeks in Auckland Hospital eating Compass food. There were multiple menu styles depending upon medical condition. I was vunerable to infection so I had a “low risk” menu to choose from. I could choose what I wanted from a range of different options. It was not restaurant grade food and it was not always hot however it was nutritious and kept me alive at a time of greatest need.
      It astonded me that each individual patient could order what they wanted and your choice was delivered to your bed and that was for thousands of patients 3 times a day all with individual needs.
      I have seen the slop examples on TV and it looked like it was stew or mince and mashed potato with no vegetables. For that to occur the patient would have to deliberately not select the vegetables offered on the menu and selected from two or three different meat and fish options. It was an absolute total mis representation of what is offered, what was shown was patient choice from a comprehensive menu not Compass or the hospital neglecting patients, a disgraceful and misleading way to present an issue. Occasionally an apology note may be included with my meal if a supply issue had arisen and a substitute was offered. Overall its a pretty impressive logistic achievement. All the menus are designed by nutritionists to meet specific nutritional and dietary needs of patients.
      There must be a number of really annoyed DHB nutritionists and Compass workers doing their best and having their efforts mocked by Labour and lambasted by unions. Why would they vote Labour or join unions.
      You don’t go to hospital for the food.

      • biscuit barrel

        That has been the system before Compass took over in Auckland.
        You seem amazed that there was a menu, that they are delivered to bedside and its nutritious ( are you a food expert?)
        Hospitals have been doing that for a long time.
        remind me again what is new about the Compass system. ?
        Ill tell you, their system means its no longer fresh each day, but blast frozen ahead of time, and then ‘warmed up’ on the day of delivery

        • Dog Breath

          Not a food expert I was a patient on deaths door for a number of weeks. I leave food expertise to the nutritionists who were part of my care. My comment about logistics did not apply just to Compass is was a general comment about the complexity of food delivery in hospitals and how incredible that is regardless of provider. Most of the food presented is pre packaged not different to what you would buy example cereals, bread, juice, ice cream, fruit, baked beans, spaghetti and so on. The only part that is frozen is hot lunch or dinner options. In this space it’s no different to frozen prepared meals available in super markets. I am not pro Compass and if the service can be improved then do so. What I don’t like is the BS that is now a big part of the story driven by Labour and the unions. BS is BS in anyone’s language.

          • Liz R

            Before your say that, you need to eat the food in Otago and Southland hospitals served by Compass. This is driven by patients and carers. I have eaten food in hospitals in Sydney, London, Christchurch, Queensland, Italy and Dunedin, so know what i’m talking about. Your experience is Auckland?

        • Liz R

          Also the food is cooked in Auckland or Tauranga, frozen, trucked, stored, de-frosted, heated, delivered and re- heated all over Otago and Southland. Doesn’t stand a chance really.

      • Liz R

        You forget that sick and elderly people are not always at their best when filling in forms and may need help. Also English may not be your first language. (Imagine being in a hospital in Spain or France) . Stop blaming the coalition who are reacting to patients and carers concerns.

        • DLNZ

          There is a person with an iPad that visits every single patient in the hospital every day and takes their “order” for the next day and completes a survey with each patient as to what they did or didn’t like about their last meals. If anything this new system is much better for patients than filling in forms that get lost or elderly people may struggle to complete on their own. Hopefully the food can be sorted to the same standards as their ordering system.

          • Fairgo

            You seem very close to the subject so let’s keep hoping.

    • Liz R

      Hospital kitchens are a vital social function paid for by the people of NZ.

  • Second time around

    The sight of Claire Curran on the barricades says it all. Compass produces edible meals for other health districts but somehow changes the menu completely to inedible slop for the southern areas. If gourmet food would speed hospital recoveries by even a few minutes, DHB chiefs would rush to order them and free up expensive beds. Unfortunately if you have a nasal drip (as one person on the news did) or are recovering from a stroke, the meal choices are quite limited. Last year Annette King was complaining that a hospital would not provide trousers for a patient. That complaint had merit, this one looks like a put up.

    • Liz R

      This was no’ put up’. Clare Curran is the local MP so is naturally concerned. How else would we patients and carers manage to make others aware of this situation? Meal choices are not limited for the sick- they have been managed extremely well by the dieticians and in house kitchen staff for years- until now.

  • Steve kay

    Saw a lady on the telly that said she had been there six weeks and hasn’t had a nutritious meal. Shouldn’t she be on deaths door then? I can assure everyone here she was a long way from looking malnourished.

    • Liz R

      ….and I can assure everyone here that family and friends have been forced to bring food in for patients to stop them from being malnourished.

      • Steve kay

        Some nice nutritious MacDonald’s eh. My wife had all our children in Southern dhb so we are aware of the meals. She’s stumped as to what all the fuss is about? The food was very good, as was her care. I simply don’t believe you need to bring food in. Is it just a coincidence that unite union and the anon rabble are at the heart of this? I think not

        • Fairgo

          But this has only happened in the last 4 months. It WAS very good. I’m not sure what ‘unite union and the anon rabble’ are and don’t belong to either.

  • WaveAtTheBridge

    “The coalition was led by the Labour Party, Green Party and New Zealand First and included Unions Otago, Unions Southland and Grey Power Southland.”

    No joint policies between Winston First and the Greens eh!

    Seems that Winston can stomach the smell of Greens after all.

    • Liz R

      Oppositions parties did us patients a favour by organising this protest. Great to see them work together for a cause

      • WaveAtTheBridge

        Except of course the cause is pretty vacuous. I’ve have also been a patient unfortunately and while the food was not exactly exciting it was fine – about what you’d expect.

        If you really think that the opposition are doing anyone except themselves a favour then you have been cruelly mislead. This is an opportunity to bash the government, support the Unions and nationalisation. It has nothing to do with food quality.

        • Fairgo

          Compass have only been on contract in Otago/Southland for a matter of weeks. The food has been terrible- thus the outcry. There is no need to bash anybody- just tell the truth. Of course in the past week things have improved for the cameras- but will it last?

  • Brent

    Have spent two weeks between Blenheim and Nelson Hospitals and had no problem with food But would advise to take you glasses as the Menu’s have a selection for having your food pureed now. And that’s on all meal menu’s.

    • biscuit barrel

      “Nutrition experts have warned a government cost-cutting team that patients could suffer malnutrition or even death under plans for cheaper hospital food.
      Their objections have forced a rethink on plans to reduce the amount of protein fed to patients, cut back on hot food, use plastic plates instead of crockery, remove small and large portion offerings and use lesser-quality ingredients.
      Sandwiches were also on the chopping block — hospitals were told to give patients 10g of protein in each sandwich instead of 10g in the filling alone.
      Alarm over the changes was sounded by an advisory group set up to give feedback over the plans. They said the cuts would save only 52c per patient a day.”

      Fancy that, they were cutting corners and the savings are miserly

      “But from next year, mince will be fattier, the 10g protein count for sandwiches will include bread, and the minimum protein delivered on a daily basis will drop from 90g to 80g.

      less protein ? I suppose thats one way to make it cheaper

  • Wayne Peter McIndoe

    To be honest the times I have been in Dunedin Hospital is for medical care and to get out of there as soon as I was able to, I was not really too worried about the food so long as it was edible and suitable, I certainly was not there for the food

    • Liz R

      Nobody is. Trouble is its not edible or suitable for many who do have to stay longer.

  • Dog Breath

    And do the work poorly. Does anyone really believe that the food was fantastic before Compass took over.

    • Liz R

      The food was very good pre-Compass. Both for in-patients and meals on wheels. According to the SDHB CEO 50% ++ of MOW’s have cancelled since Compass got cooking! They are taking their pensions elsewhere. Unfortunately in- patients don’t have that choice.

  • Keeping Stock

    The grass is certainly green wherever Clare Curran has been grazing…

  • WBC

    “Ms Morton said she’d heard of one incident” where there was a communication error.

    Wow, a whole incident!

    From recent experience our hospital care must be about the best there can be, if universal healthcare is better elsewhere then I’d be surprised or would assume it is a Nordic country that is primarily funded by fossil fuels and which for some reason the Greens party uses as their social model.

  • andrewo

    I suspect some of the patients may be confused by food that isn’t Makkers

  • Dog Breath

    The potato comment is absolute nonsense. Each patient is given a menu that offers multi courses along the lines of entree main and desert. Each course has multiple options. To have only have mashed potato delivered means the patient only selected potato from the menu offered.
    The so called mix up can only be that the patient was either totally incapable of filling out the menu form provided or was being deliberately mischievous.
    It was patient error not Compass or DHB. Dishonesty by Labour and unions do them no favours. The real.purpose behind protest is because they want non union staff at Compass sacked replaced by union staff. That is what’s is behind this protest.
    We are talking about a DHB that had a socialist board throwing money everywhere creating a huge funding imbalance hence why they were sacked replaced by a government appointed board and chairman. The previous socialist board were so incompetent they allowed a car fleet manager to fleece them of millions of dollars and an IT manager do exactly the same thing both over many years. What we see today is the result or symptoms of that incompetence yet everyone is so quiet on that incompetence. I guess it’s inconvenient for Labour and the unions to mention this and National supporters or middle New Zealanders usually do not take to the streets to impose their views on others.

    • biscuit barrel

      That IT manager was doing his stuff during the nineties. I know because I used to deal with him. Thats right that was when ALL the board where appointed by the national party government.

      And why does Compass do more than the patients food , but all tea and coffee supplies for staff, all vending machines? ( they would have existing contracts ) Does that improve nutrition for patients or is it a high profit area.

      • Dog Breath

        This is a DHB in financial trouble. This is a part of many things being put in place trying to balance the books using more efficient processes at lower cost. It’s not about big fat profits as you suggest. Had the previous been a bit more on to it with the finances this DHB would not have been in this mess.

    • Liz R

      Dog Breath: Get the facts right. There was no car fleet manager fleecing in the SDHB and the previous board was mostly National Government appointees. They were also sacked after signing the 15 year Compass contract. They had done their job.

      • Dog Breath

        Yes you are right it was one of the precursor DHB’s to SDHB i.e. ODHB. The point I was making was there is a history of mismanagement going back many many years regardless of who appointed who in the southern half of the South Island, whether its all Otago or Southlands fault does not really matter although it appears that Otago was the main culpriut and it maybe unfair to tar Southland with this brush. The end result is someone has had to fix it and its the current SDHB having to sort it out and get the books balanced.

        • Fairgo

          So not a socialist board and nothing to do with car fleet management then. And this Compass fiasco will get the books balanced? I guess if we all stop eating it will.

          • Dog Breath

            Socialist views in decision making not hard and out socialists. The car fleet issue was a historical reference to show that there have been management issues for years in the region there also have been major fraud issues involvimg millions since the SDHB was formed so overall looking through all the years of DHB in thevregion there are signs of a long term management problem which I assume is behind the sacking.
            I have said involving Compass in food delivery was one of a raft of changes needed to balance the books. Its not the sole answer and I never said it was, its one if many areas of business needed to balance the books. I also have not said that Compass food is wonderful although 90% of what they provide is packaged or prepared by others exactly the same that anyone buys at the supermarket (ceral, bread, jam, butter, fruit, fruit drink, milk, yogurt, ice cream, etc) they are just the vechile to get that food to the bed. The stop eating comment is a little bit silly.

      • Dog Breath

        DHB’s boards are made up of 11 members, 7 are elected by the community being served and up to 4 by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health appointees are there to ensure appropriate expertise is present on the board. To be appointed by the Ministry you have to nominate yourself to the appointments committee for consideration. If the previous board was dominated by those who support National it would be because the community voted them in, not by being appointed by the National Government as you suggest. The previous board was sacked because of continued deficits replaced by a commissioner and three deputy commissioners one of whom was from the previous board. So who from the previous board below do you think were National Government appointments
        Chairman Joe Butterfield sacked
        Paul Menzies Deputy Chair sacked
        Neville Cook sacked
        Sandra Cook sacked
        Kaye Crowther sacked
        Mary Flannery sacked
        Malcolm Macpherson sacked
        Tahu Potiki sacked
        Branko Sijnja sacked
        Richard Thomson carried on
        Tim Ward sacked

  • Liz R

    I see the pen of a multinational company and perhaps its shareholders on this site. Certainly nobody interested in the welfare of the unwell and vulnerable in Otago and Southland. So sad to see this degree of cynicism in our society.