Wessex Branch News

From Chris Lay

I must start my latest report with the news you’ve all been waiting for: the result from October’s caption competition. I only received one entry, so Craig Smith will be bought a drink by me at next year’s L&D Forum for suggesting how he thought Janice might have been distracted in the picture. Craig thought she was looking out of the window and out to sea, thinking, “My, when this last Teams call is finished, I’m away from here for a wee paddle.” Thanks for entering into the spirit of things and see you in the bar.

Once again, all Branch activity has been online but we are none the worse for that at all. Much debate and meeting time has centred around the governance of the Association and COVID-related issues. With regard to the former, we are grateful for the time that Mick Forse and Iain Robertson have put in to keep us updated and informed. Now on Version 12 and still ongoing, the long-term future of the Association is too precious to rush.

Here is a flavour of some of the items we have debated/discussed over the last couple of months.

  • Despite the Allergens Review being put back six months until the end of February 2021, some members shared that they were already in a position to meet the requirements.
  • I awoke to my customary fix of Zoe Ball on Radio 2 on 26 October to hear that the Hospital Food Review report had been published. Later in the evening, it was briefly mentioned on the 10pm news (alongside ‘food poverty’, school meals and Marcus Rashford), so I hope that all the good work in trying to raise standards does not get lost in the wider national news. Wessex members would like to see printable checklists so everyone is singing from the same sheet and would also like to know what some of the ‘bad examples’ were so that we can learn from them. We also hope that we will finally get national parity for chefs’ gradings.
  • Four of our local chefs from two different hospitals attended the recent Chef’s Academy event in Bristol and came back with much positivity.
  • Our talks with the local college continue with regard to our Salon Culinaire. They have curriculums to re-jig but there is a joint hope that this will go ahead at some point.
  • Craig Smith updated members that there currently seemed to be capital money within Trusts that they might be able to benefit from, and that there would also be an update of our joint memorandum of understanding.
  • COVID information sharing covered staff wearing masks and social distancing, ward trolley cleaning, special funding for goodie bags to all departments, and staff isolating from their colleagues. It is apparent that there is still some misunderstanding and inconsistency around masks and/or visors, infection control’s approach to Track & Trace, and whether self-service is acceptable.
  • Stella Gardner, our Branch Secretary, is still making and selling face masks for the Forum Charity – see page 8 of the August Journal for further details.
  • Our next meeting (again by Zoom) will also incorporate our AGM – as we keep saying, interesting times – and sadly no Christmas get together afterwards!

On a very personal note Wessex Branch was saddened to hear of the passing of David Cook. Both he and Fionnuala had been incredibly generous in their time towards visiting Wessex. We have many fond memories of them both attending our 2012 Conference and subsequent Branch dinners. We extend our deepest sympathies to Fionnuala and the rest of the family.

Finally, there are a couple of pictures below this article, both taken from our recent Zoom meeting on 10 November – one serious, one not so. Enjoy.

Everyone in Wessex wishes their fellow members a very merry (new normal) Christmas and a peaceful and, hopefully, healthy New Year.

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