MEDICAL and catering staff at Morecambe Bay hospitals have launched in innovative scheme to give patients 'food bags' to take home with them when they are discharged from wards.

In only the second scheme of its type in the country, the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust will offer patients Food-to-Go bags to ensure they have essential items when they return home from their hospital stay.

The bags were developed by acute medicine matron Hayley Reading, catering manager Tracy Litt and trust chef Andy Bickle.

The bags are to be rolled out across the trust's three main hospital sites - Westmorland General Hospital, Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital.

They will contain essentials like UHT milk, bread, orange juice, cereal and food which has a longer shelf life.

Ms Reading said: "It's a simple and practical idea that complements our on-going work to support our

patients at home in the days and weeks after a stay in hospital.

"Returning home from hospital can be a daunting prospect – the first few hours in particular can be

the hardest.

"Being able to do something simple like make a cup of tea or a sandwich can make all the difference in helping someone feel comfortable and settled.

“These simple food bags will help ease the transition from hospital to home which, alongside a wider programme of care and support, can help to reduce the likelihood of a patient becoming ill again and having to come back into hospital.”

The introduction of the food-bags is the latest in a line of new initiatives the trust have introduced in the past year including their work to improve menus across the trust with celebrity chef James Martin and the introduction of the community ‘meals-on-wheels’ project - which provides freshly-made meals to the local community.

Ms Litt, who is hotel services manager at Furness General Hospital, said: “I am proud to be part of the food bag project. We’re also working with Age UK on the bags and we will include information on healthy eating and information for patients on how to stay well.”

Sue Smith, executive chief nurse, said: “Good nutrition and hydration plays an important part of a patient’s experience of our hospitals. Eating well and keeping hydrated is an important part of their care, welfare and recovery. Good nutrition and hydration cannot be underestimated."