Healthy eating? Hospital spends just £2.19 a day on patients' meals

Investigation launched after health figures reveal huge disparities across country

Dozens of hospitals trusts across the country are spending less than £5 a day on providing three meals for their patients, according to official statistics.

Figures, released by the Department of Health yesterday, showed some hospitals spending more than £15 on food per patient while others were working off budgets of less than a third of that.

The lowest spending hospital in the country appeared to be Newham University Hospital Trust which submitted figures of just £2.19 for feeding its patients a day – 1p less than the average cost of feeding a prisoner – while Gateshead NHS trust spent £2.94.

Great Ormond Street children's hospital told the Department of Health it spent £4.90 a day, just over half that of Sheffield Children's hospital which spent £8 a day. By contrast South Tees Hospital Trust appeared to be spending £15.47 per patient per day on food while Barts and the London spent £15.65. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said the figures showed spending on food varied "wildly across the country" and announced an investigation into whether there was "a link between what is spent and the quality of food delivered".

"What's not clear is whether when the price drops, quality drops too," he said. "I want to find out if there is a link between what is spent and the quality of food delivered; and if not, why not."

But the department's figures were immediately questioned by the hospitals concerned who said that they did not accurately reflect the amount they spent on food.

Newham said its reported costs were based on the cost of one meal rather than three meals a day and their average cost per patient was actually £6.57 per day. Great Ormond Street also disputed its figures which, it said, it had reported inaccurately. It said the real figure was £7.64.

Meanwhile, the Hospital Caterers Association questioned the overall claim made by the department that the total amount spent on patient food in the NHS had risen from £8.77, from £8.58 last year.

They said the total average cost spent on food by NHS hospitals was actually around £3 per patient – with the rest of the money being spent on staff and other associated costs. They added that many hospitals rather than increasing spending were actually trying to make savings – at a time of rising wholesale costs. This, they said, could amount to as much as £1 m over a five-year period.

"Hospital caterers are under huge pressure to make efficiency saving on their food costs," said Janice Gillen, the organisation's chief executive. "But this is a mistake. Good food should be regarded as the simplest form of medicine and is critical to helping patients recover."

At the weekend Mr Hunt announced that teams of inspectors, half of whom would be patients, had started pilot inspections across the country looking at aspects of hospital food – including taste, quality, temperature, and the cleanliness of ward kitchens. Financial incentives for hospitals who deliver exceptional service were also being explored, he said.

The figures released yesterday were designed to back up the need for the inspections.

But the problems in those statistics will lead to concerns that the information being provided by hospitals is inaccurate – and insufficient checks are being done by the Department of Health before policy is formulated on the back of them. A Department of Health source said: "These are the figures that the hospital trust themselves submitted to the department. This is not a new exercise and we have no reason to question them."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

    £34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

    Developer - WinForms, C#

    £280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform