Compass perplexed by food gripes

Changes at Dunedin Hospital's staff cafe do not warrant the level of dissatisfaction evident in a new doctors' survey, the Compass Group says.

The company was asked to respond to a New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association survey which showed 90% of junior doctors at Dunedin Hospital said food quality had decreased since it took over the cafes.

Late yesterday afternoon the association told Radio New Zealand it might sue the Southern District Health Board over the food issue.

The union said the board did not consult it about changing its supply contract at Dunedin Hospital to Compass, which it said was a breach of contract, RNZ reported.

The company said in a statement entitled: "Hospital cafe continues to meet staff demands'': "Any changes made to the cafeteria have been part of the usual process of retail management with only gradual improvements being made that are consistent with what customers want.

"The changes to date don't warrant the level of dissatisfaction the survey results suggest.''

Since it took over last October, Compass had been working to improve staff cafe food, and that included consulting staff, including doctors, the company said.

"The resident medical officers, along with other groups of staff, are consulted with as part of this process and we have a scheduled meeting with them later this week.''

In a busy cafe there would be times when people did not get their first choice, but there was more than enough food available, the company said.

The survey, released by the union on Sunday, showed 78% of doctors reported meal choices being unavailable, and 72% reported a lack of healthy options.

Doctors also expressed concern that food should be sourced locally, which Compass says already happens.

"The team working in the cafe are the same staff as before, with only the cafe manager position being made redundant.''

Southern District Health Board chief executive Carole Heatly, in an emailed response, said Compass had agreed to meet the resident doctors' association to "work through the concerns''.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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