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Hospitals: Food

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 28 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what surveys of patient satisfaction with hospital food the NHS has undertaken in the last 12 months; (295301)

(2) what recent progress his Department has made in improving the quality of food served in NHS hospitals; and if he will make a statement.

National health service acute trusts have undertaken the Care Quality Commission's annual in-patient survey of patients (2008), which includes questions relating to patients’ rating of the food, whether they were offered a choice and whether they received help to eat meals. The most recent survey (2008 national adult inpatients survey [published May 2009]) results show a positive improvement in patient satisfaction with hospital food, i.e. a two-percentage point increase in food rated “very good”, and a fall in the number who rate the food as “poor”. Also, it shows a three-percentage point increase in patients stating that they always received “enough help from staff to eat meals”. The Care Quality Commission's mental health acute inpatient service users' survey (2009), also asks respondents how they rate the hospital food.

The importance of good quality food for patients is recognised both in terms of improving their health and in relation to their overall experience of services.

The Better Hospital Food programme focused on ensuring the consistent delivery of high quality food and food services to patients and its key outputs include best practice guidance and detailed information to support the delivery of food in the NHS. Although the Better Hospital Food programme has now closed, the resource is still available via the Hospital Caterers' Association website:

The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), is also working with stakeholders in the development of a toolkit to assist NHS organisations in the implementation of the “10 Key Characteristics of Good Nutritional Care”. The factsheets support good nutritional care and were published by the NPSA earlier this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was allocated in NHS hospitals for food on average per in-patient per day in the last 12 months. (296226)

There is no national health service daily allocation as such so this information is not collected in the precise format requested. However, information provided to the Department shows that in 2008-09 the average cost of feeding one patient per day was £7.53.

This cost relates to the average daily cost for the provision of all meals and beverages fed to one patient per day, across all NHS trusts in England. The cost should include all pay and non-pay costs, including provisions, ward issues, disposables, equipment and its maintenance.

The information has been supplied by the NHS and has not been amended centrally. The accuracy and completeness of the information is the responsibility of the provider organisation.