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Ipswich: Almost one in three patients turn noses up at hospital food

PUBLISHED: 12:41 11 October 2011

Nearly a third of all hospital meals are returned uneaten to the kitchen at the Heath Road hospital

Nearly a third of all hospital meals are returned uneaten to the kitchen at the Heath Road hospital

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IPSWICH: More patients at Ipswich Hospital turn their noses up at the food on offer than anywhere else in the country, new figures have today revealed.

The snapshot of eating habits at the trust reveals 29 per cent of patients sent their food back to the kitchen untouched, making the hospital the worst performing of 200 NHS hospitals and mental health trusts surveyed – and adding up to potentially £1million in wastage every year.

The figures from the Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC) report filled in by all NHS trusts each year, examined by analysis specialist Ssentif, found seven trusts have 20pc or more of all meals returned uneaten.

It comes as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) prepares to publish a report on Thursday warning of poor NHS practice over nutrition for the elderly.

A damning report by CQC inspectors following an unannounced visit to the Heath Road trust earlier this year found the hospital failing in care for the elderly, noting moderate concerns about nutrition and patients’ access to food.

A breakdown of the cost of feeding patients at Ipswich Hospital reveals £17.20 is spent per patient each day, providing them with three meals, two snacks and seven drinks.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman said, of that £4.21 is spent on food and drink with the remainder spent on labour, equipment, crockery and cutlery.

She said the 29pc return of meals untouched represents a “snapshot” figure taken on one day at the hospital.

“Since then we have been working very hard with the contractor ISS, who supply catering services, to reduce the number of meals returned uneaten,” she said.

“Many of our patients are very poorly, for example a patient in critical care is accounted for and a meal is sent to that ward for each patient but it is understandable they may not want to eat anything.

“The amount we spend on food is very comparable with other trusts,” she added. “But each hospital is different.

“The problem with the ERIC figures is they do not compare like with like. It is comparing acute hospitals with maternity hospitals, where people will be feeling a lot better and able to eat more, for example.”

Mrs Roswell accepted the concerns noted by the CQC inspectors regarding patients being helped to eat mirrored the same time period as the snapshot figure was given regarding meals returned uneaten.

She added: “I accept how people might make a connection.

“We are doing an enormous amount of work with patients who need additional help eating, making sure they are given that help.
“We have volunteers who come in and go on to the wards solely to help and encourage people to eat and drink.”

The catering contractors ISS provide a two-week rolling menu for patients, with dishes including cottage pie, fish and chips and lasagne.

The majority of food is prepared off site and heated in the hospital kitchens, with food prepared on site to account for dietary and religious needs.

Patients choose what they would like to eat at the point of service on the wards each day.

n What do you think of Ipswich Hospital food? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk


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