Nurses have slammed the “bonkers” situation at one UK hospital where sick patients are ordering takeaway deliveries straight to their bedsides – in a town that is battling an obesity crisis.

James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, Teesside, allows patients to bring in their own food to the ward, as long as they have clearance from a medical professional, with sources at the hospital saying that this includes fast food takeaways.

And staff say that while they can understand why patients resort to eating unhealthy foods on their ward, it doesn’t help their health.

One nurse at the hospital, who wished to remain anonymous, told “It’s frustrating. Often it’s visitors ordering and eating.

“Then you have women who are perhaps nil by mouth, or in pain in communal areas feeling sick and they are tolerating other people’s food smells.”

The nurse at the hospital – which specialises in the treatment of cancer, heart conditions and neurosurgery – can also see why patients and their visitors might resort to takeaways.

But she says that the town faces an obesity crisis, and the local paper TeessideLive reports that around one in 10 children are obese when they start school and that figure shoots up to one in five once they are in Year 6.

Middlesbrough also has a larger proportion of severely obese, obese and overweight children than the North East and England average.

The nurse said: “I also see the flip side. Out of hours there are no food shops or restaurants open in the hospital, and people often have long waits and can’t purchase refreshments – or staff are unable to buy anything.

“There should be facilities open at all times. Even the sandwich trolley that used to serve the staff on nights has been stopped. If there was facilities out of hours we can ask [for] food not to be eaten in public areas of the wards.”

She added that the town’s health is at “crisis point” but patients are needing to rely on unhealthy foods.

She said: “Our obesity levels are at crisis point yet we give people no access to food other than takeaways for a large proportion of hours! Bonkers.”

One popular Middlesbrough takeaway confirmed to that it delivered food to “any entrance” when we tried to make a delivery order straight to the hospital. Another well known pizza takeaway confirmed it delivered to the hospital.

Another James Cook nurse, who did not want to be named, claimed that she’s seen visitors bringing in Indian takeaways and pizzas.

She said: “I have seen members of the public bringing in food. But if it’s busy, a lot going on and people waiting a long time to be seen I can understand why people do it. We have a 24-hour service.

“I haven’t seen [delivery drivers] coming in but I have seen someone go out and come back with food, meeting a delivery driver or picking it up themselves. It’s not an every shift occurrence but it does happen.”

The South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust runs the hospital, and a spokesperson said in response to the claims: “Our ward staff, catering team and dietitians work closely to make sure our patients receive nutritious hospital food that is tailored to their individual needs.

“We have a wide range of food on offer and encourage patients to let us know if they have any specific requirements. 

“Occasionally, patients wish to have food brought in, if it isn’t detrimental to their care and they seek the permission of the nurse in charge, all we ask is that it is consumed immediately, and this is in part of a balanced diet.”

The trust also highlighted its online advice on the matter. It says: “Only sweets, biscuits, fruit and canned or bottled drinks can be brought in for patients. 

“No other food should be brought in without the permission of the nurse in charge and visitors will be asked to inform staff of any perishable food or drink brought in. Refreshments cannot routinely be provided to visitors.”

It also told that snacks can be requested by patients at any time.

Just Eat and Uber Eats, who operate takeaway deliveries in the area, have been approached for comment.

Do you work in a UK hospital with similar issues? Should patients be allowed to order takeaways to their bedsides? Please get in touch with your thoughts and tip-offs by emailing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *