27 Aug 2013

Hospitals give full marks to food, but patients disagree

Three in five hospital bosses give their food top marks, but more than half of patients are unhappy with their meals. Campaigners have done the sums and say new food standards are needed.

Listen to hospital bosses and you may think that you are in for a Michelin dining experience. Out of 156 NHS hospital trusts in England ,95 have rated the quality of the meals they served to patients as 5/5.

But an independent Care Quality Commission survey showed that half of patients are dissatisfied with hospital food. Of 6,000 patients, 55 per cent said the food they had been served was “good”.

The campaign for better hospital food said that mandatory hospital food standards on quality and nutrition were needed to ensure that patients’ dissatisfaction with hospital food is not hidden.

Surely patients recovering in hospital have the same right to good food as government ministers, school kids and prisoners? – Alex Jackson, campaign for better hospital food

“It is time for the government to come clean about the sorry state of hospital food in England and set mandatory standards for patient meals,” said Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the campaign for better hospital food.

“This would only involve extending an existing policy which has seen it set mandatory standards for prison food and food served in government departments, to go alongside those that already exist for school food. Surely patients recovering in hospital have the same right to good food as government ministers, school kids and prisoners?”

‘Too much variation’

A spokeswoman for Patient Concern called the mismatch in figures “shocking” and said that millions of pounds had already been spent on commissioning celebrity chefs to create new dishes.

“Patient Concern pointed out that unless all hospitals advised the Department of Health of the cost of implementing our plan and got ring-fenced budgets to do the job, we were wasting our time. Of course, we were ignored. Hence today’s depressing report”,” she said.

A Department of Health spokesman said there were many examples of good food across the NHS.

“But we recognise that there is too much variation across the country – that is why we have implemented a tough new inspection programme,” he added. “With our army of thousands of patient assessors we will drive up standards and reduce variation in hospital food.”