COLCHESTER’S hospitals have been praised for their tasty meals, cleanliness and keeping patients hydrated.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust scored higher than the national average in a survey published yesterday.

It was the top-performing trust in Essex.

Dee Hackett, the trust’s director of nursing and patient experience, said: “What is most pleasing is the assessment involves lay assessors, bringing an independent view to how we are doing.

“The performance is a tribute to the hard work of many of our staff, particularly our cleaning, catering and maintenance teams.

“Our results show us to be the best performing hospital trust in Essex and Suffolk.

“They are also an improvement on last year, but we will continue to strive to improve where the process has identified gaps.”

The trust runs Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, Colchester.

The Patient Led Assessments of the Care Environment rated the cleanliness of equipment, baths, toilets, showers, furniture, floors and other fixtures and fittings.

Food and hydration covered choice, 24-hour availability and access to menus, and the taste and temperature of food.

Privacy, dignity and well being looked at changing and waiting facilities, access to television, radio, computers and telephones, and separation of sleeping and bathroom/toilet facilities for single sex use.

Condition, appearance and maintenance included decor, tidiness, signs, lighting, linen and the external appearance of buildings and the tidiness and maintenance of the grounds.

A total of 287 NHS trusts and independent healthcare providers were rated.