NHS hospitals that feed patients on 90p a meal

Lynn Davidson

Last updated at 9:05 AM on 11th January 2012

Some NHS hospitals are spending as little as 86 pence a meal on food for patients.

New figures show a massive disparity in what is spent per day on food and drinks for patients.

Some hospitals spend as little as £2.57 per patient while others spend more than £22 a day – nearly £7.50 per meal.

The National Health Service spends around £500million a year on food and drink for patients

The National Health Service spends around £500million a year on food and drink for patients

The data, compiled by the NHS Information Centre, give details of spending on food and drink in 2010-11 of more than 350 primary care trusts, foundation hospitals and other NHS organisations.

It showed more than 30 trusts – almost one in 10 of the total – fork out less than £5 a day on breakfast, lunch and dinner for each patient in their care.

The lowest spender is Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which spends just £2.57 a day.

Wiltshire spent the most –  £22.31 per patient per day.

Last spring, the Mail told how spending on hospital food had been slashed by up to two thirds in the last five years.

In some hospitals in England, budgets had fallen by 62 per cent, with some meals costing little more than £1. Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said it was ‘vitally important’ patients got a balanced diet, but added that health bosses did not see food as a priority.

She said: ‘Sadly, catering is not seen as a priority by the NHS, but it’s a false economy.

Figures released last year showed food worth £22million was thrown away untouched in the previous year because patients were unable or unwilling to eat it

Figures released last year showed food worth £22million was thrown away untouched in the previous year because patients were unable or unwilling to eat it

‘It’s vitally important that people in hospital get a balanced diet – otherwise they will have only to stay in hospital longer.’

In the past 12 months, a series of reports by the official health service watchdog has exposed worrying standards of care in the NHS, in particular for elderly patients.

Overall, the health service spends around £500 million a year on food and drink for patients.

But there are growing concerns some patients are not eating properly while in hospital.

Around 200,000 NHS in-patients are discharged every year suffering from malnutrition, with 10,000 of those estimated to have become malnourished during their stay.

The Daily Mail’s Dignity for the Elderly campaign has repeatedly highlighted abuses caused by underfeeding and poor nursing practice in hospitals and homes.

NHS figures released last year showed food worth £22million was thrown away untouched in the previous year because patients were unable or unwilling to eat it.

In some hospitals, more than one in five meals was returned uneaten.

Health Minister Simon Burns said: ‘All patients deserve basic standards of care when they are in hospital and good food is one of them.

‘We have set binding standards for good hydration and nutrition as part of a hospital’s registration with the regulator.

‘The amount of money hospitals are spending on food has gone up over the past five years, and waste is going down, but this rise in the amount spent on food does not necessarily mean better food for patients.’

Government buying standards include criteria to reduce salt, fat and sugar content and increase the amount of fruit, vegetables, fibre and oily fish on offer, according to the Department of Health.

It pointed out the amount of money hospitals spend on food had gone up over the past five years, with the average at £6.53 per patient per day in 2005-06, compared to £8.58 in 2010-11.


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Yes, but do they have the machine that goes ping

I had ordered lancashire hotpot. I got one thin slice of rubber ham with watery gravy. That was it!

How much of that money is actually spent on food – and how much on administration?

to all the stupid people who are saying a hospital is for treating peoples illness not their appetites – how are you to get BETTER if you are not given FOOD you can eat, you know basic simple tasty edible FOOD.

i can cooka good nurition meal for 50p.so why can’t the government

This is a typical example of the same body being managed by a multitude of ‘trust executives’ . They should all be binned saving a massive amount of money and managed from a central county point with a manager in charge of procurement and a matron on the wards, bring back discipline and health and safety numpties and cut out over familiarity .
We use the same suppliers all over the country at the same rates etc. It’s the same when I was a police officer, just about every police force has its own style of uniform and use different suppliers etc pushing up costs no end!
We need someone like Mr Pickles to dictate sensible policy from government in hospitals and get someone like Tecos to supply the grub. Job done….hello!!

The hospital I work in a few years ago took the catering back ” in house” , patient and staff canteen menus are the same and whilst like any mass catering the food would never win Michelin stars it is fresh, tasty and edible.
I visit other hospitals as part of my job and those where the catering is contracted out are by far the worse. In the staff canteen a hot meal at lunchtime a cold drink and a piece of fruit would set you back between £5 £6 ( that’s not a 3 course meal just the main course) its actually cheaper for staff to go to a local hotel but the food isn’t as good!
Catering needs to be brought back in house and to use fresh local ingredients not some plastic reheatable rubbish. It can be done for no more ( and sometimes less) cost than the private contractors the thing stopping it happen is political ideology.it’s hard for hospitals to resist being ” contracted out” for anything.

I agree with Jeff in Norfolk and Roger in Carmarthen. Apart from special diet cases, where the treatment IS the food, why should the patient not be able to order from local cafes at their own expense or have meals brought in by relatives? That would also boost small businesses locally and would save the NHS finances for treatment rather than food. It would also mean less administration for the hospitals, hence another saving!

22 pound is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on one person??? I myself, at home, prob don’t spend more than 3-4 pounds a day on food for myself. A portion of cornflakes, a homemade soup and sambo and a pasta dish in the evening, dividing ther cost of each product into portions…id say about 3 pounds. So i dont see anything wrong with hospitals spending less than 5 pounds a day…Why should they fork out more?

OK, guys! Today is ‘Have a go at the NHS Day’ (again)!!! All put your moans into this forum, and thoroughly depress everyone else! All those putting ‘positive’ comments will be ‘red arrowed’ or not published. Have a nice day, y’all!! (Sarcasm!!!)

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