Extracts from Telegraph article, 10.01.12
Some hospital trusts commit just £2.57 for each patient’s daily food and drink, according to the latest statistics, despite growing concern about poor nutrition on wards.
At least 30 hospital trusts, almost one in 10 of the total, spend less than £5 a day on breakfast, lunch and dinner for each person in their care.
The statistics, placed in the House of Commons Library this week, drew allegations from patients’ groups that nutritional standards are slipping as managers strive to save money.
Compiled by the NHS Information Centre, the figures give details of spending on food and drink in 2010-11 by more than 350 primary care trusts, foundation hospitals and other NHS bodies.
In total, 30 of the NHS bodies listed spent less than £5 a day on each “patient meal day” — the average daily cost for the provision of all meals and drinks fed to an in-patient. By contrast, Wiltshire primary care trust spent £22.31. Several others spent more than £10 a day.
Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association claimed the latest spending figures showed NHS managers were trying to cut corners, with the result that patients’ health was suffering.
“Sadly, catering is not seen as a priority by the NHS, but it’s a false economy,” she said. “It’s vitally important that people in hospital get a balanced diet – otherwise they will have only to stay in hospital longer.” She added: “It’s no surprise that so many people complain about the quality of the food and say they are not able to eat. Patients don’t expect restaurant-quality meals, but they do expect and deserve decent and nutritious food.”
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