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Sunday 16th June 2019

Hospital food wastage could be costing NHS millions

11th October 2011

Information collected by SSentif has found nine million hospital meals are not eaten at health service hospitals every year.


The data, which was analysed by SSentif from 200 NHS hospital trusts, showed nearly 8% of meals are not eaten by patients.

The government does not give trusts guidance about hospital meals and each trust decides which catering firm to hire for their hospital.

The analysis of Estate Returns Collection Information (Eric) - data which all trusts have to collect on a certain date - concentrated on daily patient costs, the percentage of requested meals and the percentage which were returned without being eaten.

The data showed Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust came top for returned meals, with 29% of meals not eaten by patients, while a quarter were not consumed at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust.

Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust said in a statement: "At the time of our most recent Eric return, based on a one-day snapshot, waste was indeed at 29%, but since then the trust has been working with its hotel services contractor to reduce that figure which will now be considerably lower."

A spokeswoman for the Manchester trust admitted a high number of meals were not eaten. However she added: "We discovered that staff on the ward, responsible for ordering food for our patients, were being over generous in the food quantities they ordered to create more choice and more menu options on the ward, particularly for our at-risk patients," and said this no longer occurred.

Some trusts had far lower numbers of meals returned, with fewer than 1% returned at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust. 

Judy Aldred, managing director of SSentif, said: "Trusts have responsibility for their own catering budgets and with no minimum standard set by government, the result seems to be huge discrepancies between organisations." 



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