Almost 90,000 meals a year are thrown away in North Tees and Hartlepol’s NHS Trust’s hospitals, claims a new study.
Pressure group the Campaign for Better Hospital Food says its research shows at least in one every six meals served to patients in hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton goes uneaten.
The trust served 660,496 meals over a 12-month period but 88,740 were not eaten.
The percentage of food waste stood at 16%, including food which has been served and food which has been wasted during preparation.
The group has analysed data from the Home and Communities Agency and acute NHS trusts nationwide which it says show more than 30million NHS patient meals are thrown away each year.
A poll on the Mail’s website found that 62% of people said they did not think hospital food is of a good standard.
Our catering team works closely with our dietitians to make sure patients receive nutritious food that help with their recovery.North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust head of catering Colin Chapman
Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: “The Government has been steadfast in its refusal to have the quality of hospital food and hospital food waste monitored by an independent organisation.
“Instead it’s happy to use dodgy statistics to bury the true extent of patient dissatisfaction with what they’re being served.
“Patients need nourishing, wholesome meals which are appetising and tasty to eat, not soulless, factory-made food they clearly can’t stomach.
“We want the Government to fix hospital food for good by setting higher hospital food standards, putting them into legislation and getting meals independently inspected by an organisation trusted by patients and NHS staff.”
Currently, the Government asks hospitals to monitor their own food waste, and calculate how much food is wasted in preparing meals before they are served. They are not asked to inspect the amount of food wasted by patients.
Last year, the government set hospital food standards for the first time, but campaigners say they don’t go far enough.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust head of catering Colin Chapman said: “As a trust we are always working hard to continuously reduce food waste and we pride ourselves on the highest standards of catering.
“Our catering team works closely with our dietitians to make sure patients receive nutritious food that help with their recovery.
“We have protected mealtimes on the wards to support and encourage patients to eat and drink properly and allow them to eat in a calm and relaxed environment, with help from staff who can support those people who find it difficult to feed themselves or need support.
“We have also recruited a group volunteer mealtime companions at the trust who help people to eat well during their hospital stay. We have a wide variety of menus such as a grazing menu for the elderly which allows them to eat smaller meals more frequently and our menus include a lot of individual items to control waste and give patients the choice of food they would like to eat.”
People have had their say about hospital food by posting comments on our Facebook page
Rob Allen commented: “I don’t think it was too bad to be fair, but I was having chemo and radiotherapy so there was a lot of waste from me, I just couldn’t enjoy anything.
With regards to other people, there will be a lot of ill people who can’t bring themselves to eat, sometimes they’ll intend to but when it’s on the plate in front of them they will sometimes find they just can’t.
It’s not always about how good the food is, but often more about the condition of the people who are trying to eat it.”
Elizabeth Leigh Hornsey wrote: “Honestly I’ve heard it’s improved but when I was having my daughter at north tees the food was abysmal, I asked people to bring packed lunches for me when they came to visit because it was truly awful.”
Laura Johnson said: “Alderney children’s hospital the food was quite good and my son ate.
North tees also quite good and my son ate. James Cook he refused to eat!”
Emily Currah commented: “Hartlepool lovely both times i was in having my kids loved it”