If there was ever a good time to break a leg and spend time at Burton General Hospital, it was in November 1978.

The hospital had always boasted about its food but in November 1978 its quality was endorsed by top food critic Egon Ronay.

In the latest edition of his Good Food Guide, the hospital was complimented on its skill and care in the kitchen.

Although the inspector did not sample a patient's meal, Egon Ronay gathered there were few complaints, distribution of food was efficient and were hotter and fresher than the food served to staff.

Phoenix Hospital Radio radio added colour to the airwaves back in 1992

The food critic singled out the fried fish, green beans, mashed potato and sago pudding for special praise.

Burton Hospital was the first – in 1965 – to introduce a system of preparing and serving meals which was later copied across the country.

The meals were scientifically worked out by medical staff.

Explaining the process, catering officer David Fort said: "There are different diets for different patient requirements and a choice of dishes within those diets.

Burton Hospital was named in the Good Food Guide in 1978.
Burton Hospital was named in the Good Food Guide in 1978.

"The patients study what they want from the menu and it is then prepared by the kitchen staff".

The hospital kitchens used a highly efficient means of food distribution with the plates sent out at a rate of ten per minute.

These prepared plates were then loaded to trolleys and whisked away to the wards where it was served by waitresses in the quickest possible time.

To help the staff, the meals were prepared on colour-coded plates which were then sorted by the nurses on the wards.

All of this was prepared by just six kitchen staff who had to prepare seven different menus every week – which were then completely changed every four weeks.

A sample menu in 1978 when the Burton Mail visited the kitchens included meat and potato pie, fish in parsley sauce, pork pie with salad, sweetbreads in cream sauce or cheese and biscuits.