Medact Manchester campaign to save the Salford Royal Hospital kitchen



The Salford Royal Hospital, part of the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, is an acute hospital with 839 beds. Whilst patient catering was provided in-house and well rated by both patients and staff, the kitchen was reported to be in need of complete refurbishment. On the 2nd February 2016, the Trust decided to put the catering service out to tender, seeking to out-source the patient meal service to a company that would provide ready-made cook/freeze-chill meals.

Medact Manchester and Medact joined other organisations to campaign to keep the hospital kitchen open. Unfortunately this decision was not reversed BUT Medact kept up their dialogue with the Salford Royal Hospital – wanting to highlight this decision as part of a much bigger fight against the privatisation and outsourcing of services across the NHS. This conversation has now also come to an end.

This page summaries the campaign and the activities carried out by Medact and Medact Manchester.

What were the concerns?

Undermined the role of food as part of holistic therapeutic care

The provision of fresh, nourishing and appetising food is an important part of patient care and recovery, particularly for long-stay and elderly patients. Moving away from freshly prepared food was likely to impact on both the quality of meals and also the ability to provide a service that was flexible and responsive to patients varying needs

Ignored the role of hospitals as a social, cultural and economic asset with impacts beyond the NHS

The decision appeared to have been made based on narrow financial criteria. Closing the kitchen would have wider negative social and economic effects on the local community through the potential loss of jobs and by precluding the opportunity to procure food locally. This decision ran against both the Public Services (Social Value Act) 2012 and the aims of Greater Manchester’s newly devolved health and social care budget. Both of which place emphasis on making decisions in an integrated holistic fashion that consider the wider impacts and local benefits

Negative environmental impacts 

Outsourcing catering removed the potential to procure food locally and seasonally and therefore missed the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of the hospital. In addition, this decision was likely to lead to a direct increase in food and packaging waste

Lack of transparency or public consultation

There was no evidence of any public consultation around this decision. Two documents had been made available:

Catering service consultation paper– sent around the affected staff and unions (the first draft went out at the end of January, the updated version was circulated in March)

Actions taken

  • Medact Manchester wrote to local clinicians and Salford CCG expressing their concerns and asking clinicians to add their names to support the campaign
  • Medact Manchester also supported UNISON by attending public consultations and supporting their campaign efforts
  • He responded answering some of the points BUT failed to address the concerns around the wider environmental, social and economic impacts – we responded and asked to meet
  • You can read David Daltons final response here – unfortunately he decided to bring the dialogue to an end
  • Medact wrote a commentary critiquing the Salford Royal Hospital’s decision to close their kitchen against the aims of the newly devolved Greater Manchester Health & Social Care budget

Financial breakdown of the four alternative catering options – was received on request. A full report of the evaluation of these four catering options, including the methodology used to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of each of the four options, was not been made publicly available

From the documents made available, it appeared that the evaluation was conducted on the basis of very narrow financial criteria, excluding the proper and full consideration of a number of social, environmental, economic and health impacts.