MANY local hospital patients are leaving their food, a report has revealed.
Current figures show that 7.3% of hospital patients meals were returned untouched at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary – less than the national average.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust which operates Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital processed 866,075 main meals in 2009/10 with a total spend of £2.3m on meals.
The trust spends £7.72 per patient per day, which is 34 pence under the national average. Unlike many other hospitals, HRI only asks patients what they want to eat two hours before the meal is served to cut down on the chance of it being wasted.
At the moment the uneaten food is thrown away but there are plans for it to be used as fertiliser in the future.
Meanwhile, Kirklees PCT, which provides care for patients at Holme Valley Hospital, spent £7.99 per day on patients meals and wasted 10.46%.
The report comes as both the Huddersfield and Halifax hospitals were recently graded to offer five-star catering following an inspection carried out by PEAT, the Patient Environment Action Team, as part of an annual survey.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “It is important that patients are fed well so their health improves.
“Hospitals make their own decisions about their food and, therefore, over time, the amount spent will differ between hospitals.
“Patients must not be left without enough to eat or drink. The Care Quality Commission has tough enforcement powers for cases where proper standards are not being met.”
A Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust spokesman, said: “In accordance with Better Hospital Food guidelines we have to make sure our patients get both choice and nutritional requirements at the same time as keeping waste as low as possible.”
National analysis of hospital meals returned suggests nine million meals (almost 8%) go back untouched at a cost of £22m every year across England.
The worst performing trust in the figures was Ipswich in Suffolk, which, despite spending £17.20 per patient per day, 29% of food was recorded untouched.
Health minister Simon Burns said: “Those hospitals with high levels of waste should be looking to learn from the ones that don’t.
“All hospitals should also make sure that every patient gets the help they need to eat properly and offer good quality nutritious food. This is an essential part of hospital care.
“NHS hospitals are required to comply with quality standards that protect patients from the risks of dehydration and inadequate nutrition.
“The Care Quality Commission assesses trusts against these and has tough enforcement powers for cases where proper standards are not being met.”
The analysis further revealed a big difference in how much hospitals spend per patient, per day on food.
The data suggests that high spend does not seem to equate with patients eating more meals.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK, said: “Often older patients require more support to eat a meal, especially after an operation or while receiving treatment and this is often not taken into account.’’
The data was taken from Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC) figures filed by NHS trusts.