University Hospital of North Staffordshire cafe damaged by vandals
A HOSPITAL was forced to shut its flagship restaurant and throw away large quantities of food after it was attacked by vandals.
The newly-opened Moment to Eat centre at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UHNS) stayed closed for nearly three hours yesterday as it was cleaned in depth after police hunted for clues.
Hungry patients, visitors and staff were greeted by metal grills across the entrance and a note saying it was closed due to "unforeseen circumstances".
Instead they were offered snacks sold from trolleys at several locations throughout the complex.
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A promotional photo-shoot of the cafe by the The Sentinel had to be cancelled yesterday.
It had been planned ahead of the scheduled official opening by former England rugby star Matt Dawson on October 8.
Police and hospital managers confirmed they were looking into an incident of criminal damage – but refused to give any details of what had happened.
The restaurant was opened in June as part of the trust's £400 million superhospital development.
From its first-floor location, it looks out over the complex's atrium and reception area and offers views of surrounding countryside.
Police were called in at 9.30am when a member of the hospital staff reported the criminal damage.
Scores of meals prepared for the morning were binned and staff were put on stand-by to issue apologies to the public. The restaurant re-opened just before mid-day.
The facility is run by international catering giant Sodexo under the private finance initiative behind the new hospital which opened in March.
A hospital spokesman: "As a precaution, the produce that had been prepared was disposed of and the area has been cleaned thoroughly.
"We would like to apologise to our visitors for the resulting temporary closure of the restaurant while this cleaning took place.
"We will offer Staffordshire Police any assistance that is required while they carry out their inquiries."
A Sodexo spokesman said: "A police investigation is under way so it would be inappropriate for us to comment on this incident.
"However, we can confirm that we worked in partnership with the trust to maintain a catering service for patients, visitors and staff."
A Costa Coffee snack bar, in the main reception, remained open yesterday.
A police spokesman said: "Officers were called to the hospital shortly before 9.30am following a report of criminal damage in the restaurant.
"We are carrying out inquiries into the incident and liaising with staff at the site."
Witnesses should call 101, quoting incident number 131.