LETTER : How nurses used to serve lunch

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Sir: I started my training to become a State Registered Nurse in 1949 ("NHS patients being left to starve", 3 February; letter, 4 February). One of the first duties as a junior nurse was to help the ward sister serve lunch.

The food trolley - heated - was wheeled into the ward at 12.15pm with hot plates on board, and each patient had, prior to this, had his bed tray laid with cutlery. The trolley stood in the middle of the ward and the ward sister officiated. She never moved from the trolley. We, her minions, walked with the food - anyone running would be stopped.

The food ritual went like this: sister looked at patient number one and decided what he would have from her selection - ordinary, light, liquid. A nurse was despatched with the plate and so on round the ward.

The patients unable to feed themselves were fed by a nurse delegated by sister with the instructions to report back.

If light diet was refused, we knew we had to offer egg custard, ice cream or jelly - these three items came every day. And if all else failed we coaxed them to have "kidney soup" - Bovril in hot milk.

There was a lot to be said for the old system.

M LORNA CLAYDEN

Midhurst, West Sussex

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