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Patients and bosses have differing views on hospital food
3:46pm Tuesday 27th August 2013 in News
THE standard of food dished out at Worcestershire Royal Hospital has been defended after claims from campaigners that hospitals are hiding patient dissatisfaction with the meals they serve.
Almost two-thirds of NHS hospital trusts in England - including Worcestershire Acute Trust - rate the quality of meals they serve to patients as “5/5”.
But the Campaign for Better Hospital Food says that, while bosses may believe they are serving up Michelin-style dishes, feedback from patients tells a different story.
It points out that in a survey of more than 64,000 patients carried out by the Care Quality Commission watchdog earlier this year, just 55 per cent said the food they had been served was "good”.
In the past, NHS staff have carried out annual assessments of the quality of hospital food.
That is now changing and in future local people will go into hospitals to help carry out the assessments.
But campaigners say that is not enough and want mandatory standards introduced for hospital food, like those which already exist for prisons and schools.
Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: “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?”
Unison is also backing calls for mandatory standards, but the Department of Health says its new, “tough” inspections will have an impact and that legislation “is not the right way to proceed”.
A spokesman said: “We recognise that there is too much variation across the country - that is why we have implemented a tough new inspection programme. With our army of thousands of patient assessors we will drive up standards and reduce variation in hospital food.
“Patients are the ones who consume hospital food and they are best placed to decide what is good and what is not.”
We previously reported how Worcestershire Acute Trust is among the country’s biggest spenders when it comes to feeding patients.
Figures compiled by the NHS Information Centre showed the trust - which runs Worcestershire Royal, Redditch Alexandra and Kidderminster hospitals - spent £13.84 per patient, per day on food and drink, including labour costs.
The report showed some trusts spend as little as 90p per meal while others fork out more than £20 a day.
Claire Austin, associate director of communications at Worcestershire Acute Trust, said: “The quality of our food is very important as food is a vital part of each patient’s recovery.”
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