Cooking the books

SIR, —- According to your front-page story (Herts Advertiser, November 20) the daily cost of a hospital patient s meals varies from £1.96 in the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, through £7.20 as a national average, to £24.65 in Suffolk. Are these figures c

SIR, -- According to your front-page story (Herts Advertiser, November 20) the daily cost of a hospital patient's meals varies from £1.96 in the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust, through £7.20 as a national average, to £24.65 in Suffolk. Are these figures credible? Are you sure you are comparing like with like?

NHS Trusts do not all use the same accounting procedures, and I suspect that the lowest figure covers merely the cost of foodstuffs, while the others include some or all of the costs of the kitchen, such as staff, gas and electricity, equipment and premises.

More research, please! Then you may have a meaningful story about which to editorialise.

D.J. VELTOM


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