PATIENTS at a Huddersfield hospital are getting meals costing almost £20 a day.

And that’s SEVEN times higher than the equivalent cost at many other NHS hospitals.

But health chiefs insisted the reasons for the high costs are down to “economy of scale” at the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital.

The £19.81 bill per day is to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner, and drinks, for the 15 patients occupying the hospital in Huddersfield Road.

By comparison, the cost per day for the hundreds of patients in the Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital is £8.43.

The Holme Valley staff provided 20,128 meals last year, at a cost of £132,920. The Trust running the Infirmary and Calderdale Hospital provided 802,446 meals, at a total cost of £2.3m.

A spokesman for NHS Kirklees, who were responsible for the meals at Holme Valley, said: “It is all down to economy of scale.

“There are strict guidelines within the NHS on nutrition and we aim to provide the highest quality meals within those guidelines.

“Obviously the price is governed by the numbers involved as we all know when we go shopping. A sack of potatoes works out much cheaper than a bag of potatoes”.

Details of the catering costs for all hospitals across the country have just been revealed in a new survey.

NHS hospitals are spending as little as £2.57 to feed and water patients a day – or 86 pence a meal, according to new figures.

The massive disparity in what is spent on patients around the country was revealed by the statistics compiled by the NHS Information Centre.

Among those spending the least were Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (£2.57), Harrow Primary Care Trust (PCT £2.75), North Somerset PCT (£2.76), North West London Hospital NHS Trust (£3.13) and Herefordshire PCT (£3.66).

The figures showed more than 30 hospital trusts – almost one in 10 of the total – pay less than £5 a day on breakfast, lunch and dinner for each patient in their care.

Wiltshire PCT led the way in spending the most (£22.31) followed by Kirklees PCT (£19.81), University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (£17.46) and Cumbria Teaching PCT (£17.85).

A spokesman for the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust said: “Providing good quality, nutritious food is an important aspect of the care we give to our patients.

“Our food was rated as ‘excellent’ in the latest survey by the National Patient Safety Agency.

“The rating was awarded after being inspected by the Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT), which is made up of patient representatives alongside staff from the trust.

“The ‘excellent’ assessment, which has been given to the Trust for the second time, looks at quality of food and its nutritional value.”

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said that health bosses had priorities other than food.

Saying it was “vitally important” patients got a balanced diet, she said: “Sadly, catering is not seen as a priority by the NHS, but it’s a false economy.”

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 (DoH) said.

It pointed out that the amount of money hospitals spend on food had gone up over the past five years, with the average at £6.53 per patient per day in 2005-06, compared to £8.58 in 2010-11.

Waste was also going down, from an average of 8.9% in 2005-06 to 5.9% in 2010-11.

Health Minister Simon Burns said: “All patients deserve basic standards of care when they are in hospital and good food is one of them.

“We have set binding standards for good hydration and nutrition as part of a hospital’s registration with the regulator.”


Choice of cereals or porridge

Toast or breads

Fruit or yoghurt


Cottage pie or liver and bacon

Choice of broccoli, carrots, green beans, mash, potato wedges

Mixed fruit pie and custard

Rice pudding


Soup of day; Sandwiches on brown or white bread: Fillings include salmon, tuna, tuna mayo, ham, beef, corned beef, cheese or egg mayo.

All options available as cold salads. Desserts