FIGURES on the cost of providing hospital food should be ‘treated carefully’ as there were many factors involved said Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.
The Daily Telegraph published National Health Service data highlighting hospitals used by Horsham patients as the worst in the country.
Western Sussex Hospitals Trust, managing Worthing Hospital, Southlands at Shoreham and St Richard’s, Chichester for example, was the lowest-spending trust quoted - just £2.57 a day on food and drink per patient.
Surrey and Sussex, which operates East Surrey Hospital at Redhill, gave a figure of £6.62 per patient per day, whilst others reported figures in excess of £10.
However, Paul Hatcher from Western Sussex Trust said the figures were misleading.
“Unlike other trusts the figure represents only the cost of ingredients, and not the total spent on sourcing, preparing, cooking and serving food and drink.
“If those costs are included our figure is £8.46 per patient, per day.
“The last reports from the Patient Experience Action Teams rated patient food at all three of our hospitals as ‘excellent’, and in the last national inpatient survey our trust was rated by patients as being fractionally outside the top 20 per cent in the country for the standard of food.”
Meanwhile a Surrey and Sussex trust spokesperson defended its spending on patient nutrition.
“The cost of providing hospital food depends on a number of factors, including the location of the hospital, the number of people catered for and other economies of scale,” they said.
“The figures quoted in the report should be also be treated carefully.
“Some hospitals included the cost of food bought in from external catering suppliers and also included other costs, such as pay, non-pay transport, storage and consumable costs.”
A Department of Health spokesperson added: “Hospitals make their own decisions about their food and therefore, over time, the amount spent will differ between hospitals.
“Patients must not be left without enough to eat or drink. The Care Quality Commission has tough enforcement powers for cases where proper standards are not being met.”