MANAGERS at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust have launched a consultation on plans to close the catering facility at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham. Instead, the trust is proposing to transfer the supply of all patient menu items to St Richard's Hospital in Chichester. It also intends to close the on-site restaurant and all associated facilities. Under the plan food will be brought from the Chichester site 25 miles away, while Southlands will get a range of vending machines. Trust director of strategy, Nick Fox, said: "Ensuring patients receive healthy, nutritious meals is an essential part of the care we provide. There has been a long tradition of excellent food at St Richard's Hospital, based on a system where freshly-prepared food is chilled before it is taken to ward kitchens. It can then be prepared as close as possible to patients, who are able to choose from a selection of dishes, which are then served to them by one of our housekeepers. This approach is now being extended to patients at Southlands Hospital. We believe this approach is in the best interests of our patients, their relatives and staff."