PRISON FOOD PREFERRED: John Kaczynski, of Lismore Heights, was not happy with the standard of food at the Lismore Base Hospital.
PRISON FOOD PREFERRED: John Kaczynski, of Lismore Heights, was not happy with the standard of food at the Lismore Base Hospital. Marc Stapelberg

Nazi prison food better than hospital, claims former POW

A NORTHERN Rivers man who was in a German prison camp during the Second World War said the food there was superior to meals served by Lismore Base Hospital during a recent stay.

Lismore resident John Kaczynski, 90, was just 15 in 1943 when he was interred into a German slave labour camp during World War Two and he reckons the food was better cooked.

"I have tasted prisoner of war food and it is my view it was a better food than that supplied by Lismore Base Hospital," he said.

"The vegetables were rotten or raw and the fish I was given one day, well if you gave it to the cat, he would run away."

Mr Kaczynski who has lived in Lismore for two decades, said while the nursing staff and cleaners at the LBH were wonderful, he felt they were very much overworked.

"I cannot praise the nursing staff enough, they were wonderful I cannot sing their praises enough (but) they are really overworked," he said.

"The cleaning staff were wonderful but I saw both silverfish and cockroaches walking the wards."

Polish-born, Mr Kaczynski has lived in Australia for over 60 years become an Australian citizen around 30 years ago.

He said he was one of millions of ordinary people were enslaved as part of the German war effort when their country was occupied by the Nazis.

"I was moved around different camps in Poland and Germany, they used to send you anywhere to do any work they wanted," he said.

"They even send me to clean the corpses after the bombing, or work on farms and I tried to escape three times."

In the beginning of 1944 Mr Kaczynski finally escaped from Germany to France via the underground, where he then joined the Free Polish Army until 1948.

It is estimated Nazi Germany created some 42,500 camps and ghettos in which an estimated 15 to 20 million people were imprisoned and often pressed into slavery and used as source of labour supply.

In a statement yesterday, Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive, Wayne Jones said the organisation is committed to providing timely and compassionate medical care.

"We will contact Mr Kaczynski today to investigate the concerns he raises," Mr Jones said.

"While the food provided to patients in our facilities is prepared according to the NSW Health nutrition care policy, Northern NSW Local Health District is actually rolling out a new menu system very soon, following a successful trial at Byron Central Hospital."

Mr Jones said the new program is known as My Food Choice.

"The new program delivers tastier meals and an easier ordering process, with pictorial menus and a short turnaround time," he said.

"Nursing staff will be able to monitor a patient's food intake more easily using the new system and it will ensure clinicians have oversight of their patients' meals."

On the issue of cleanliness, Mr Jones said a recent report by the Bureau of Health Information revealed 83% of women receiving maternity care within the NNSWLHD believed wards and facilities at hospitals in the District were very clean and these figures were the highest in the state.

"Our health district values the high level of care provided by our cleaners and domestic service staff who work hard to provide a safe and clean hospital environment," he said.

"Staffing levels at hospitals throughout the Northern NSW Local Health District, including Lismore Base Hospital, are allocated according to the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Award. We continually monitor those staffing levels and, when demand rises, additional resources are provided to ensure we continue to provide the highest level of clinical care."

Meanwhile, Mr Kaczynski stands by his claims.

"What I want is for proper staffing levels and tasty and healthy food for people who stay in the hospital," he said.

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