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Overcoming exceptional challenges in order to maintain quality patient care at University Hospital Southampton, UK

On Wednesday 28th November 2018, the University Hospital in Southampton (UHS) declared a major incident at 6am due to a complete power failure in the East Wing, representing half of the hospital. Nearly three hours later a fire broke out in the Acute Medical Unit and all East Wing patients had to be evacuated, preventing them from receiving a normal breakfast.

Anita Taylor, our Back of House Supervisor at UHS, was on annual leave, but heard about what was happening on the news. In her role, Anita’s main responsibility is to ensure that all stock for patient catering is available and prepared for Ward Hosts to serve meals to the patients.

Anita came into work immediately, taking charge of coordinating suitable lunches for each and every patient, arranging for extra sandwiches and salads to be made and working to ensure all special dietary requirements were appropriately catered for.

Unfortunately, a second fire broke out at midday, causing the evacuation of another area in the hospital including the main kitchen and retail restaurant. This created further complications and delays, but the team worked hard to overcome the additional setback. Once allowed back into the building, Anita immediately set about organising the supper service, as power had not yet been restored.

Supported by Anita’s leadership and her uncompromising commitment to the wellbeing of the patients in our care, our teams were able to provide appropriate catering for every patient for the remainder of the day.

“All staff on duty that day did a fantastic job in very trying circumstances,” said Bertie Young, Serco Contract Director for UHS, “but Anita stands out as a role model for all our Values. Her leadership and initiative were instrumental in ensuring that catering services continued to be delivered to around 1,400 in-patients. Nothing is too much for Anita and the best interests of the patients are at the heart of everything she does.”