Hospital meals are cheapest in country

PUBLISHED: 10:10 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010

LESS money is spent on patients meals at local hospitals than anywhere else in the country. According to figures released by The NHS Information Centre, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) spent just £1.96 per head on patient food each day over the pas

LESS money is spent on patients' meals at local hospitals than anywhere else in the country.

According to figures released by The NHS Information Centre, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) spent just £1.96 per head on patient food each day over the past year - far below the national average of around £7.20.

WHHT, which provided about 513,000 meals over the year at St Albans City, Watford and Hemel Hempstead Hospitals, was revealed to be the lowest spending healthcare trust out of the 340 which provided the data.

Second from the bottom was the Barnsley NHS Trust which spent nearly 30 pence more than WHHT on patients' daily meals.

Meanwhile patients at the nearby Luton and Dunstable NHS Foundation Trust enjoyed the luxury of £8.22 meals per day - £6.20 more expensive than the WHHT food.

The West Herts PCT, which provided around 55,500 meals over the year in local hospitals, spent a more generous £4.38 per head.

The highest spending PCT was Suffolk with £24.65 per head a day.

MP Anne Main said she was "staggered" by the findings and pointed out that the average daily cost of feeding each prisoner was £1.97 - information she obtained from the Secretary of State for Justice earlier this year.

A spokesperson for WHHT said that the trust now spent £2.10 on food costs per patient per day - a 14-pence increase.

She said Watford General Hospital used the Steamplicity system in which ready meals were cooked using steam pressure which gave patients a choice of up to 22 different hot meals a day.

And she pointed out that patients in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans City hospitals received a traditional meal service cooked on site.

The spokesperson said the food supplier's most recent satisfaction survey showed that 93 per cent of patients at Watford General Hospital thought the overall quality of food was good or better. At St Albans City Hospital 87 per cent of patients felt the same while 80 per cent did at Hemel Hempstead Hospital.

She also pointed out that Watford and St Albans hospitals achieved a good rating in food services in a recent PEAT (Patient Environment Action Team) survey in which Hemel Hempstead Hospital was given an "acceptable" score.

WHHT was also one of four trusts selected for a pilot scheme called Nutrition Now, which was launched by the Royal College of Nursing designed to raise nutrition and hydration standards in hospitals.

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