Ormskirk Hospital’s hot and cold tray trolley is a ‘caterer’s dream’


Moffat’s trolley speeds service, eases handling, and improves food quality

‘A caterer’s dream’ is how Angela Wakefield, the catering and hotel services manager at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, describes the Moffat Versigen Single Tray Service (VTS) trolley that’s currently delivering meals to patients in Ormskirk Hospital’s Bluebell Ward.

Certainly, the trolley has improved food quality for the patients, but it’s not just that - it’s also the way it keeps both hot food hot, and cold food cold – even though they are loaded onto the same trays, in the same trolley.

And, because all nursing staff have to do is to take the tray from the trolley to the patient, without having to add anything, it speeds up food service and makes life easier.

Bluebell Ward houses 24 patients and was originally opened as an escalation ward to ease pressure on beds at the hospital over winter. All the food is cooked in the hospital’s central kitchen – typical dishes include cauliflower soup, pasta bolognaise, vegetable pasta bake, and chicken curry. Cold dishes can include sandwiches and salads, and there’s a choice of hot and cold desserts. Quality fresh food is the order of the day; and patients get to choose their lunch in the morning, it’s then cooked, plated and served.

Because the food is fresh-cooked on site, chefs can provide something different for patients who don’t fancy anything from the menu.

“For example, people who have just had an operation often want something very simple, like beans on toast,” said Wakefield.

Bluebell is currently the only ward with the Moffat VTS trolley, but she hopes that will change.

“We have conventional hot trolleys to distribute the food at the moment,” she said.

“When we first started looking for new ones we trialled three different systems and the Moffat VTS came out on top. It’s lightweight and speeds up service by cutting down on handling – because the hot and cold dishes all arrive at the ward on the same tray, ready to be given to the patient.”

With the new system, each tray is individually plated on a belt service. The chef calls out the patient’s menu, staff load the tray, and it’s put into the trolley. The trays are specially designed to fit into a slot, so that the barrier between hot and cold food is maintained.

The VTS trolley at Ormskirk has a capacity of 24 trays. The heating and refrigeration use a multi-fan air recirculation system to ensure even temperatures throughout.

“The trolley’s tight temperature control ensures safe delivery of both hot and cold foods, helping us comply with HACCP regulations,” said Wakefield.

The trolley is even powerful enough to regen chilled food if required, though this feature isn’t needed with Ormskirk’s cook-and-serve system. Once the trays are loaded, the trolley can be left plugged in, in the kitchen or elsewhere, and will maintain food quality until it’s time to take it to the ward for service.

“With the old trolleys we had to keep hot and cold dishes separate and load them onto the trays on the ward. The new one is ideal for the variety of dishes we serve,” said Wakefield.

“The VTS trolley does a great job. It keeps the food in top quality, with no drying out. The hot food is as if it’s just come out of the oven. The added benefit of having the meals delivered with hot and cold dishes on one tray makes handling much easier.”

The ease of use of the trolley is yet another benefit.

After the success of the VTS in the Bluebell Ward, Ormskirk is planning more trials elsewhere in the hospital.

Wakefield said: “Every ward is different, so we have to check that staff are happy with the trolleys. But I’d expect them to be a vast improvement over what we have.”

The trolley’s light weight ensures easy manoeuvrability and the VTS is designed to be tough enough to cope with transport in a busy hospital.

The chassis is stainless steel with radius corners, reinforced at stress points and fitted with heavy-duty rubber buffers.

Moffat’s multi-fan technology and the fully-insulated compartments, with double-skinned insulated doors, ensure optimum temperature control and minimise energy consumption.

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The VTS trolleys are available in a choice of sizes to hold 18 to 32 trays. The standard models feature a regen/keep hot and a refrigeration compartment. Moffat also offers a Chillogen version, which can hold chilled main courses then regenerate them in one compartment, while the other holds refrigerated product. VTS trolleys are available in a wide choice of colours. Options include 3D logging system for HACCP, a towing attachment, and seven-day timer.