September 17, 2009 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Traction Man is writing about the food he receives in an NHS hospital bed in England. He's got a Downfall tribute video too.
posted by debord (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If he can work in references to his in-laws and a lawyer he'll have hit the comedy trifecta.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:53 AM on September 17, 2009

How much is he paying for his indefinite stay in hospital?
posted by klanawa at 12:02 PM on September 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

This looks like a great opportunity to link to a David Gray video. You're welcome.
posted by jbickers at 12:09 PM on September 17, 2009

Sad thing is that it all looks pretty good to me. I probably should be concerned about my diet.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:14 PM on September 17, 2009

I actually quite enjoyed my short stay in hospital when I went in to have surgery on a broken ankle. I got lucky and got a room to myself, and I entertained myself watching Samurai Jack and reading about different medical procedures on the swing out TV.

I don't remember much of the food, apart from the pizza baguette and oddly curried, diced potatoes that was the first meal I got after I woke up from the GA. That tasted really good. I do remember constantly boggling at the fact that I wasn't directly paying for any of it, or the £600 of titanium they'd put into my leg.
posted by lucidium at 12:15 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

If only that dry British wit could be sprinkled on British food, help spice it up a bit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:27 PM on September 17, 2009

My grandmother and two of my aunts worked in the food service kitchen at the largest hospital in my home town. There was a cafeteria that was open to all employees (at a discount) and the general public (not at a discount), and it served the same food that was served to the patients. I often ate there as a teenager, as it was cheap and tasty. The cafeteria was always full at lunch and dinner time, and I never heard any complaints about the food quality.

A few years ago I had a brief stay in a competing hospital (my insurance was with a different chain) and the food there was about like this poor chap describes. When I was discharged, I walked past their cafeteria as I was leaving (at lunchtime) and there weren't any diners there. I can't imagine why.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:28 PM on September 17, 2009

I guess nothing breeds contempt like boredom.

If he's being so poorly fed and ill-treated, he should do a little research and find somewhere else to be in hospital.
posted by hippybear at 12:30 PM on September 17, 2009

I was in the hospital a few years ago, extremely ill, for about a month. Once a week there was a "fish" dish. It looked like a steamed goldfish. I vomited more from smelling that from being otherwise nauseous.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:57 PM on September 17, 2009

While I'm tempted to ask him how he likes the healthcare that isn't plunging him into further debt, above and beyond the not-worked-in-many months issue...enh. I laughed. I read the whole thing. It killed some time, and he's funny.

(One year ago tomorrow, I moved to Wales from the US. If I have learned anything over the past year, it is that that national pasttime of the United Kingdom is moaning about things. I have finally stopped taking it so very seriously. It's a survival tactic.)
posted by kalimac at 1:07 PM on September 17, 2009

How much is he paying for his indefinite stay in hospital?

This time last year, I spent five nights in an NHS hospital having, and recovering from having, surgery to fit some internal metalwork for a spiral fracture of the tibia. The stay, the food (which wasn't too bad actually), the crutches, and the many sessions of physio afterwards, came to a grand total of £zero.

I know that, technically, taxes and National Insurance paid for it. But, I'd have paid those anyway, hospital stay or no.

Yay for socialised medicine!
posted by veedubya at 1:12 PM on September 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

Are we certain this blog is authentic? Maybe I'm the fool here not having read the whole thing but so far it's oddly timed with the US health care debate and there's a lot of references to it, starting with the very first blog entry.
posted by crapmatic at 1:16 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Reading this part of lucidium's comment -- the £600 of titanium they'd put into my leg -- caused a double-take for a moment. I don't know if it is correct or not, but my internal text-reader renders "£600" as "six hundred pounds" in my head....
posted by mmahaffie at 1:29 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Your debates about healthcare have been noticed over here. Mostly, why, oh, why are you giving time to that Tory MEP, as if he's someone important, we all think he's crazy. Mostly. Apart from the (sometimes) shitty food and the superbugs. But we've been hearing about how millions of Americans can't afford healthcare, and that seems crazy to us. Makes us like the NHS even more. Sure it could be a lot better, but we are working on that, ta.
posted by Helga-woo at 1:33 PM on September 17, 2009

Mmm. Hospital food. After my surgery I was high as kite on morphine, but I fancied myself hungry, especially when a plate of fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, corn bread and red Jello showed up. I was delighted with the small plastic cup of sweet tea as well. I informed the CNA who was kind enough to deliver this sumptuous tray to me that I was going to eat it all up!

I managed about three macaronis, and the tea before I fell asleep. When I awoke, no tray. :-(

I'm thinking that institutional food is better in the South.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:39 PM on September 17, 2009

I don't know if it is correct or not, but my internal text-reader renders "£600" as "six hundred pounds" in my head....

I'm certain they mean "six hundred British Pounds' worth of titanium metal" not "six hundred pounds of titanium".

It's an expensive metal.
posted by hippybear at 2:08 PM on September 17, 2009

klanawa: "How much is he paying for his indefinite stay in hospital?"

Including all the taxes that pay for it, you mean? Probably a bunch.
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 3:03 PM on September 17, 2009

klanawa: "How much is he paying for his indefinite stay in hospital?"

TheFlamingoKing "Including all the taxes that pay for it, you mean? Probably a bunch."

Hrm. If only we had some system that would ensure that the people who need medical care get it.

posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:24 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whinging Pom.
posted by Catch at 3:32 PM on September 17, 2009

klanawa: How much is he paying for his indefinite stay in hospital?

In the comments he makes some quite nuanced points on this subject. Of course the NHS is free at the point of service but Traction Man has been paying taxes all his life for this, so he has a right to complain.

Also, he points out that he is very happy with the medical care he is receiving. He is not happy about the private catering firm which makes crappy meals, presumably for a decent profit. In one of his comments he points that 40% of NHS food gets thrown away due to being inedible. Not only is it bad for patients to be undernourished, this is a waste of taxpayers money.
posted by memebake at 4:16 PM on September 17, 2009

Also, he points out that he is very happy with the medical care he is receiving.

I'm not so sure about that.
posted by hippybear at 4:32 PM on September 17, 2009

I'm not so sure about that.

Grr. Stupid fingers.
posted by hippybear at 4:34 PM on September 17, 2009

I think the food looks nice, personally. I mean, probably not all of it is as good as it looks, and I do have a reputation for eating anything that leans too close to me, but it's not like he's getting gruel.

However, I also get that a lot of people don't like hospital food, so I figured he was justified and I'm just really easy to please.

Then I read the posts that hippybear linked, and now? I just think he's kind of a douche. Throwing a tantrum over having to stay on a ward is pretty childish about it, but whining about a nurse who did her job and in response to his leg complaint? Examined him thoroughly.

I live in England, and without going into great detail, I find the American health care system terrifying. The NHS is the one thing about this country that I unashamedly proud of. This guy is either pushing an agenda, or (far more likely in my opinion) just looking for comedy material in a big institution that it's easy to take a swipe at.
posted by emperor.seamus at 4:56 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Let's see my options are:

1. USA: Receive injuries requiring traction, run up a massive medical bill, heal..while eating delicious free market food, get back to work, and spend the rest of my life working to pay off my debt.

2. UK: Receive injuries requiring traction, heal...while eating sub-par food, and get back to work.
posted by limited slip at 5:36 PM on September 17, 2009

Wow, he sounds like a douche. Hippybears links anyway. "Waaah, they're taking blood to check my potassium levels so I don't have a fatal arrythmia! How cruel!"

Stuff like that's why I've got a reputation for oversharing with my patients. It's never backfired on me yet. No one argues with you when you let them know that the reason their buzzer didn't get answered asap was that we were busy doing cpr on someone who was doing their best to die. You can fix a wet bed, you can't fix a dead guy!
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:50 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've been (un)fortunate enough to experience hospital treatment and food in both the UK and the US. The medical attention, as far as I can tell, was equally skilfull and capable. The food was equally mediocre. There was a preposterous difference in the price.
posted by normy at 6:26 PM on September 17, 2009

It's also important to note, he's made 25 posts since the 29th of August, which is only 20 days ago, AND he puts as his description that he's "battling against the NHS". Plus, he describes himself as a freelance journalist.

When I add it all up, he started the blog to be contrary, and he's really really bored so he's bitching about as many things as he can. The "freelance journalist" part makes me wonder if that is REALLY what he did for a living, or whether he's hoping to spin this whole thing into a book deal.

We don't have a real identity for him yet? I haven't seen one... Unless he is the Tim Worstall listed in the "friends "section of the blog.
posted by hippybear at 6:27 PM on September 17, 2009

I've worked for the NHS and the food is fine. Obviously some hospitals will be worse than others. But I've enjoyed their roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and decent pieces of meat. The minced beef he shows in one photo has a nice rich sauce. There's also somewhat of an option.
posted by RufusW at 7:30 PM on September 17, 2009

A US friend of my wife's just died after a diabetes-related collapse, essentially, of a big chunk of her internal organs. After a couple of weeks in hospital, she had racked up over a million in bills, which the hospital were expecting to take out of her estate. It's almost a blessing that she didn't recovering, because I have no idea what she'd have done if she'd survived.

I think I could put up with some shit food.
posted by rodgerd at 8:01 PM on September 17, 2009

limited slip wrote: Let's see my options are:
while eating delicious free market food,

I have yet to see a hospital meal that was actually appetizing (and I've seen a lot, my family is sickly) here in the US, although it always seems to be edible. A lot like my "home cooking," actually.

I'm told that there is a hospital here in town that serves excellent food, since nobody will go there because it's off in the middle of nowhere. Gotta do something to get patients, I guess.
posted by wierdo at 10:47 PM on September 17, 2009

About 15 years ago I worked for a couple of days in the 'kitchen' of Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge (one of the biggest and most well respected hospitals in the UK).

The kitchen was underneath the hospital and the floorspace must have been as big as the hospital itself. It had no natural light and literally hundreds of people working there, according to some unfathomable system. My most vivid memory is of standing in a line about 20 people long, spooning mashed potato onto a conveyor belt of plates. It felt like working in a concentration camp.

I'm sure these days Addenbrookes uses private contractors and this kitchen no longer exists, but I bet the food is exactly the same but pricier for the NHS.

On a side note my mum, who has MS and has just got through cancer, has nothing but praise for the treatment she got at Addenbrookes. The NHS is the greatest achievement of this country in the 20th century and beyond. It is actually amazing.
posted by Summer at 5:34 AM on September 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Almost exactly a year ago I was in hospital for just over a week (surgery on the first full day, one week's recovery). I was in a little three-bed ward with a view over the park-like centre gardens of the hospital, the surgeon visited every other day and the specialist nurse visited every day, and everyone was very nice and gave me lots of delicious morphine.

But the food was revolting. None of it really tasted of anything, and it all had a strange aftertaste and overwhelming stickiness, as if a vital part of the cooking process was to coat it in glue. I don't know how they did it; the curry tasted like the ommelette tasted like the weetabix! After the first two days I couldn't manage any more of it, and even the smell of it made me feel like vomiting. For a while I lived on Jaffa Cakes brought to me by my partner, and then, one glorious day, one of the friends we'd made on another ward felt well enough to go to fast food restaurants and would return, night after night, with piles of KFC or pepparoni pizza (I'm told the staff at the restaurants on Fulham Palace Road don't bat an eyelid when serving people in dressing gowns, slippers and colostomy bags). That first bite of pizza was probably the nicest thing I've ever tasted. We gorged ourselves.

There's a lot to complain about with the NHS, particularly in my own little segment of society; I was one of the lucky ones in that I didn't get arsed around. But they gave me a life to lead -- not just with this surgery but with care stretching back ten years -- and it cost me nothing more than a bit of a vommy feeling, several dozen boxes of Jaffa Cakes, and the fact that I had to spend my 29th birthday on my back in a hospital bed with wadding inside me.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:58 AM on September 18, 2009

my internal text-reader renders "£600" as "six hundred pounds" in my head

It's like watching English shows about addiction. Some of these guys have an 80 pound a day habit!
posted by ODiV at 8:19 PM on September 18, 2009

If you think about the challenges of feeding thousands of people simultaneously and that many of them are not up to eating all sorts of stuff, it's no surprise that most of the food in hospitals is mediocre (same reasons as airline food, really).

Still, if you are well enough to bitch about the food and have received expert and, obviously, effective treatment for free, life could be a lot worse, you know?
posted by dg at 4:09 AM on September 19, 2009

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