Scandal of the 72,000 uneaten hospital meals

UNTOUCHED meals cost Calderdale £189,662 in the past year.

New figures show 72,703 meals at Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary were returned to the kitchens untouched between March 2009 and March 2010.

The number equates to 8.51 per cent of the trust’s hospital meals.

Nationally, trusts spend an average of £7.92 per person per day on meals, slightly higher than the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust’s £7.72.

The figures were submitted by each trust and analysed by data management specialist SSentif, revealing a huge gulf in NHS spending on catering.

In Yorkshire, the lowest spend was Rotherham, with just £2.93 per patient per day.

The region’s highest was York at £11.75 per patient per day but 18 per cent of York trust’s meals went untouched, wasting £512,770.

Across England, a total of nine million hospital meals went untouched, wasting more than £26 million.

Frank Gibbons, director of CHFT’s estates and facilities, said: “We are working hard to reduce the amount of wastage and this year’s figure is substantially less than the year before.

“In accordance with guidelines we have to make sure our patients get both choice and their nutritional requirements at the same time as keeping waste low.”

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

“Food waste in the NHS is also a big concern, as although some waste is inevitable in any catering environment, untouched meals in a healthcare situation have more worrying implications for patient health and nourishment.

“The fact that trusts spending a generous amount on hospital meals still report high percentages of meals being returned untouched would seem to suggest the issue is not one of quality.”