NHS Hospitals 'Spend As Little As 86p A Meal' On Patients' Food
NHS hospitals are spending as little 86 pence on meals for patients according to new figures.
The statistics compiled by the NHS Information Centre showed more than 30 hospital trusts - almost one in 10 of the total - spend less than £5 a day on breakfast, lunch and dinner for each patient in their care.
The figures were disclosed just after a report by the independent Future Forum warned NHS nurses were lacking in compassion and basic skills.
Saying it was "vitally important" patients got a balanced diet, she said: "Sadly, catering is not seen as a priority by the NHS, but it's a false economy."
Trusts spending the least included:
- Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (£2.57)
- Harrow Primary Care Trust (PCT £2.75)
- North Somerset PCT (£2.76)
- North West London Hospital NHS Trust (£3.13)
- Herefordshire PCT (£3.66)
Wiltshire PCT led the way in spending the most (£22.31) followed by Kirklees PCT (£19.81), University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (£17.46) and Cumbria Teaching PCT (£17.85).
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, the Department of Health (DoH) said. Spending on hospital meals has been increased in the last five years.
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.
"Last week, the Prime Minister also announced measures to give NHS staff the time to check that patients are comfortable, properly fed and hydrated, and are treated with dignity and respect.
"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.
"Many trusts have excellent food and are serving healthy, fresh meals to their patients while staying within budget. These trusts set a precedent for others to follow and the whole NHS should be learning from the best trusts."