There’s never a nice time to be in hospital – but Christmas can be especially sad for many patients. Serving a delicious Christmas dinner goes some way to alleviating this upset – and every year hospital caterers cook up the nation’s largest Christmas lunch, serving more than 400,000 Christmas dinners in England alone.

Many NHS Trusts go the extra mile on Christmas Day with hospitals nationwide providing festive cheer with roast turkey dinners, mince pies, fresh fruit and Christmas cake, served with crackers and napkins.
Many hospitals operate at a high bed capacity during the Christmas and New Year period, and NHS catering staff provide a full and enhanced catering service during the busy holiday period.
It’s not just patients who are looked after. Many hospitals also treat staff who are working to a free cooked breakfast.

Craig Smith, national chair of the Hospital Caterers Association, said: “Any stay in hospital can be a difficult time, but especially so at Christmas. We are all extremely proud of our members and all NHS caterers who work so hard providing good nutrition and hydration 365 days of the year. “Christmas is a very special time in hospitals, bringing everyone together; many caterers go the extra mile around this time, dressing up or finding some small way to bring a little bit of festive cheer to the wards. We thank all the staff for their amazing service, helping to feed patients whilst being away from their own families on this special day.”
Tim Radcliffe at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust already has his Christmas 2019 planning in the bag.

He explains: “We cook on Christmas Day for around 950 hungry mouths across East Lancashire’s hospitals. A total of 340lb of turkey, 600lb of potatoes, 200lb of carrots and 66lb of sprouts will be plated up. That’s not even accounting for the 165lb kilos of Christmas pudding on the menu! A lighter buffet is served later in the day as well.”
“We have 52 staff on duty. In addition we also hold three Christmas staff lunches on three days in the last week leading up to Christmas, serving over 350 staff. We also do ‘Christmas in a bag’ which is delivered to those staff who are unable to attend.
“We hold two kids Christmas parties for all staff children (free of charge) with a visit from Santa, and have a volunteers Christmas party to celebrate the work that they do.”

Here’s what some hospitals have done in previous years:

  • Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust led by catering manager Tracey Potter cooked 30 turkeys, 3,500 sprouts and served 700 patients and staff on its busiest day of the year.
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lyn, treated patients to a full turkey roast with all the trimmings, whilst also delivering a whole cooked turkey to their children’s ward on a hot trolley so the ward staff could carve and serve the children directly.
  • Like many others, North East Fife in Scotland supplied a cooked breakfast and a full Christmas dinner as well as a buffet in the evening – and one of the porters at Adamson Hospital, Cupar Fife Scotland dressed up as Santa. This was followed through at New Year with a cooked breakfast, steak pie and trimmings and a buffet in the evening.