Find out how much your NHS hospital meal is worth in Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 17:37 11 January 2012 | UPDATED: 10:45 12 January 2012

Food being prepared at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. Pictured: Beef hot pot and spotted dick with custard.
COPY:Sarah Brealey
EDP pics © 2010

Food being prepared at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. Pictured: Beef hot pot and spotted dick with custard. PHOTO: IAN BURT COPY:Sarah Brealey FOR:EDP2/Features EDP pics © 2010 (01603)772434

Archant © 2010

The majority of NHS hospitals in Norfolk are spending below the national average when it comes to feeding patients, according to new figures.

The James Paget Hospital at Gorleston spends twice as much on its patients than the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, according to statistics compiled by the NHS Information Centre.

One in 10 of the NHS Trusts across the country pay less than £5 a day on breakfast, lunch and dinner for each patient in their care. However, the government and health chiefs said that the money hospitals spend on food had gone up over the past five years.

Figures for 2010/11 show that it cost the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital £5.89 a day to feed a patient whilst that figure was £10.97 per patient per day at the James Paget.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, the catering team spends £6.83 per patient per day, NHS Norfolk pays £4.36, and the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust £5.46.

The Department of Health said the national average had gone up from £6.53 per patient per day in 2005/06, compared to £8.58 in 2010/11.

However, there is a massive disparity in what is spent on patients around the country, according to the figures from the NHS Information Centre with Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (£2.57) at one end of the spectrum and Wiltshire PCT (£22.31) at the other end.

A spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: “Making sure patients get good quality food and are able to eat it is an essential part of nursing. At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital we provide catering for over 1,000 in-patients a day which gives us economies of scale. The modern building also enables us to operate catering services more efficiently which also helps to keep down our costs.”

Government buying standards include criteria to reduce salt, fat and sugar content and increase the amount of fruit, vegetables, fibre and oily fish on offer, the Department of Health said.

A spokesman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn said the in-house catering team’s focus on local fresh food and being part of a consortium helped drive down food costs.

“We think it is extremely good value for money and our catering team has won awards for the quality of their food. Hospitals in areas like this serve traditional English menus and there are not so many different dietary requirements,” he said.

Jon Dack, spokesman for the James Paget Hospital, added that the £10.97 was reflected in the staffing costs involved in the in-house catering team preparing and serving meals.

Nichole Day, executive chief nurse at West Suffolk Hospital, which spends £9.45 on food and drink per head per day, added: “It is important to provide our patients with high quality, balanced and appetising meals as good nutrition can have a really positive impact on recovery. As such, our catering team work hard to prepare our food on site while offering a choice of meals which meet special dietary requirements.”

“We buy our ingredients from a variety sources to ensure we are getting the best value for money. Where possible, we use local suppliers so that we can reduce transport costs without compromising on quality.

The figure for NHS Suffolk in 2010/11 was £15.29 per patient per head.

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