Thanks to the intervention of a local MSP, the new DGRI will be serving up good quality, locally sourced food.

SNP Regional List MSP Joan McAlpine wrote to Health Secretary Alex Neil on the issue following an approach by the Health Board’s Chief Executive Jeff Ace concerning a “cook fresh” option for the new hospital.

In the past, NHS Boards were encouraged to go through central purchasing to buy their produce, which resulted in locally sourced goods making up only 20 per cent of orders.  But now, thanks to a positive response from the Health Secretary, Mr Ace has been given the go ahead to source a huge 80 per cent locally, and is now finalising the plan for a cooking course to be run at D&G College, to train up young people to deliver hospitality at the new DGRI.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“This is fantastic news, not only for patients of the new DGRI but for local producers and young people.

“Mr Ace’s “cook fresh” proposals fit perfectly with the SNP Government’s Procurement Reform Bill, which will be laid before Parliament later this year and aims to help small businesses compete for public contracts, as well as making these contracts more sustainable in the long term.

“It will be a great boost to the local economy with so much of the food sourced and prepared locally.”

Jane Gray, from Lets Eat Local, said:

“This is a very positive step towards rebuilding a re-localised, sustainable food economy and I’d like to congratulate the Heath Board on their vision. Public procurement plays a key role in achieving this, as the pioneering work in Ayrshire has shown. This commitment from the Health Board will offer real support to small scale farmers and growers and hopefully encourage new entrants into the food production sector, while also reducing food miles, shortening supply chains and giving an economic boost to the region.”

Mr Ace will also meet with companies bidding for the contract to construct the new hospital.  It is hoped that smaller local firms will be utilised for the majority of sub-contracting opportunities.

Ms McAlpine said:

“I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Nicola Sturgeon to outline the importance of getting the maximum benefit for the region from this fantastic Scottish Government investment.

“Even though the Bill won’t have passed before the contract is awarded, I am hopeful that the spirit of the Bill will be prevalent throughout the tender process and that small local companies will reap the benefits.”