THE long tradition of providing a hot lunch for staff in the canteen at Orange hospital is in jeopardy with staff told the service is losing money and is set to close.
A hospital spokesman said demand for the hot lunch service had fallen significantly over the last year and management had asked staff for their input to come up with an alternative.
Orange Health Service has a contractual arrangement with HealthShare NSW who provide the hot lunch service on the ground floor of the hospital in the staff canteen.
“The lunches start at 12 o’clock but if you’re not down there by 12.45pm you can forget about it because there’s usually nothing left,” one staff member told the Central Western Daily.
“I thought because the meals were cheap at $5.15 they were really popular.”
Other staff have told the Central Western Daily some staff have limited options if they don’t bring their own food or have to stay back to work an extra shift as they cannot leave the hospital during the day.
The Orange hospital auxiliary operates a separate fundraising canteen on the ground floor of the hospital open to staff and public with the help of volunteers.
“The trouble is sometimes we don’t have much time and if we haven’t pre-ordered the wait is too long - perhaps there could be a staff express line put in place when the other service shuts,” one staffer said.
A hospital auxiliary spokesperson was not able to comment to the CWD on how the organisation might deal with the extra demand for food services due to the Orange Health Service media policy.
An Orange Health Service spokesperson was not able to give the CWD an indication of when the staff canteen will close other than to say the contract with HealthShare NSW is not being terminated.
“Consultation with staff has commenced to identify possible options for availability of meal purchasing for Orange Health Service employees for the future,” the CWD was told.
The nearby Country Club operated by Orange Ex-Services’ Club does provide an express lunch service for hospital employees if they pre-order.
However, the club’s chief executive officer Cameron Provost said the existing system worked well and the club would not be able to implement any additional service to cater for low-cost meals.
“Our current menu is available on our website and the pre-ordering system [for hospital staff] seems to work well and the pricing is very reasonable,” Mr Provost said.
“I certainly understand the financial stresses the hospital may be feeling but I imagine we would be unable to provide such a service for the same reason.”
In April this year Bathurst Base Hospital staff were given short notice of the closure of its staff hot-food service with falling patronage cited as the reason for the cut.
However, at the time staff told the Western Advocate newspaper the decision was not related to a fall in demand but related to budgetary cuts.