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Pembrokeshire's leading hospital is one of the first to adopt new dual-temperature Moffat Single Tray system for faster, enhanced ward-level food service

Hospital catering is set to change radically in the near future as the advantages of single-tray service become evident. One hospital leading the way is Withybush General, in Haverford West, Pembrokeshire.

The 300-bed hospital, run by Hywel Dda NHS Trust, had been using an old pellet-based trolley system for some years, but it was getting to the end of its serviceable life. With the increasing expectations of staff, patients and the hospital management for ever-improving standards and reliability a major upgrade was planned.

Catering Manager Sue Evans says that she really wanted the next generation in hospital catering - more features, faster service, easier hygiene control, hotter hot food, greater reliability and lower running costs. "We knew the options available for a replacement system and we trialed Moffat's latest single-tray service trolley solution," she says.

This new Moffat system, the Versigen VTS Single Tray Service Trolley, is designed to address a problem for all hospital caterers: How do you serve a piping hot main meal on one half of the tray, and keep the other half (for example salad and dessert) properly chilled at the same time, without compromising the food quality? With traditional hospital catering, the hot food has to be kept separate until the last moment, increasing the amount of work involved and the scope for error.

The VTS allows hot and chilled storage simultaneously, on a single tray, employing chilling and heating simultaneously in the same trolley. Importantly, it is designed to work with a site's existing tableware.

Sue Evans was intrigued. "It was clear we were going to be one of the early adopters, but it offered potentially huge benefits. We were given an early model to trial, and we immediately realised that this was a great advance for us. So we agreed to switch our entire ward catering to the Moffat system. That was a total of 13 trolleys in 24-tray and 30-tray versions, for the entire hospital."

The Versigen Single-Tray Trolley is built around Moffat's own design of large-capacity tray, and divided into two sections, one side for hot food, the other for chilled. The tray slides into the divider between the hot and refrigerated sections, ensuring a good isolation between the two temperatures.

The system was supplied and installed by dealer ABM Catering For Leisure of Cardiff. The trays can accommodate any plates (unlike a pellet system, which requires special crockery), so the hospital was able to save a considerable amount in the switchover by reusing most of its existing tableware.

After inserting the trayed meals the ST trolley is given a fast boost on 3-phase power in the kitchen. This raises the heated side to hot-service temperature, while keeping the cold section chilled. Then it's wheeled to the wards, where the trays are ready to serve immediately.

"With the old system, if there was any delay - for example if the staff are busy dealing with an emergency, the food would start to go cold," says Sue Evans. "However, when the Single Tray trolley arrives on the ward we can plug it into a standard 13amp if the staff are busy, and it will keep hot food properly hot, and cold food cold.

"The new system took a bit of getting used to, but not because it was hard to use. Far from it. It's actually very easy, but we weren't used to things being that easy! It required a different method of working. Serving the meals on the ward is now much, much quicker - there's just one tray to take to the patient.

"No question, our hot food is now definitely served hotter, and the cold food - the salads, the desserts, and so on - are properly chilled. It's a great improvement."

ABM Catering For Leisure, a family-owned business based in Tremorfa, Cardiff, provides a comprehensive service covering design, specification, supply and installation of catering equipment. It can be contacted on 029 2049 7755 or at

E & R Moffat is one of the UK's leading manufacturers of quality foodservice equipment, designing and manufacturing in-house. Based in Bonnybridge, Scotland, the company manufactures standard and bespoke servery, regeneration and storage equipment with a full nationwide after-sales engineering team. E & R Moffat is accredited to ISO 9001:2000 and many of the products have gas approvals and are EMC tested. For more information on E & R Moffat visit the website on

Posted on Mon 12th Oct 2009