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Hospital food needs to improve

25th March 2011

More needs to be done to ensure patients continue to get the right nutritional care in Welsh hospitals.

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The Auditor General for Wales has found that while hospital catering is improving in Wales, a number of patients did not receive the help they needed at mealtimes.

Patients were in general satisfied with the food they received, though large amounts were still being wasted and the daily cost of patient meals varied greatly from £1.33 to £5.66.

Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said: “NHS organisations must recognise the importance of patient nutrition and ensure that there is effective leadership at ward level so that best practice is implemented.”

His report found that Welsh hospitals did provide an appropriate choice of good quality food but what at-risk patients ate was not always recorded and that savings could be found from addressing food waste issues.

The report found the cost of unserved meals on wards was about £1.5m.

Chief nursing officer for Wales, Professor Jean White, said she was pleased the “significant work” done to improve hospital food was recognised.

“Contracts ensure that food in hospitals is sustainable, safe, of good quality and procured efficiently,” she said.

However, the Patients Association said the report provided more evidence that the health service in Wales was "still struggling to provide basic care for every patient".

Chair of the Welsh Assembly public accounts committee, Darren Millar, said: “Although hospital catering services in Wales have improved, a great deal still needs to be done to make sure patients get the nutritional care they need.”

 

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