Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Recent studies have revealed an astonishing variation in the amount that NHS trusts spend on feeding patients. Consider yourself very privileged if you happen to be cared for by The James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This splendid institution forks out £18.20 per day feeding their patients. I can imagine patients gorging themselves on quails’ eggs, white truffles and paté de fois gras, washed down with Krug Champagne.
On the other hand, pity the poor souls who are guests of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust. They get a measly £2.80 a day spent on their food. Meanwhile, Rotherham Foundation Trust also spends a miserable £2.80 on patients’ food and drink. That sounds about enough for a diet of bread and dripping washed down with strong sweet tea. Mind you, Yorkshire folk are well known for being careful with the pennies.
Across the UK the average amount spent on patient food is £7.43, but this figure has dropped from £8.07 in 2004/5, when food was considerably cheaper.
To be fair, according to Kirsty Edmondson-Jones, Associate Director of Facilities at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust: "The food costs are for raw ingredients only and don’t include costs for staff, buying in ready prepared meals, or overheads such as heating, lighting or maintenance.”
"We operate traditional kitchens, with skilled NHS chefs who freshly prepare our menus using raw ingredients to make meals from scratch and served fresh," she added.
All credit to Ms Edmondson-Jones, who sounds far more convincing than Matthew Lowry, Chief executive of Rotherham Hospital who has obviously been fitted with an NHS Management Chip: “Providing patients with good quality, healthy meals is a very important part of their care. Patients get a choice of tasty, nutritious meals throughout their stay with us and they tell us we’re getting it right. The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust conducts regular patient meal surveys and we consistently achieve satisfaction rates of more than 94 per cent."
High-spending Nick Coveney, Director of Nursing and Patient Services at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, says: “Providing our patients with good quality, nutritious food is extremely important, as the right diet can help people recover from illness. We provide a good choice of fresh foods for all of our patients, and make sure that those on special diets, such as low fat, low potassium or wheat-free diets, are well catered for.”
Nick sounds like a man who’s finally got the message that good food is as important as good medicines, proper nursing and excellent medical care in helping patients recover.
Jo Webber, who has the glorious title of deputy director of policy at the NHS Confederation claims: “There could be many reasons for the variation in spend on food and this data needs to be looked at in greater detail to ascertain the reasons for that. All trusts will try to ensure they are providing the best possible nutrition for patients. Evidence shows that providing patients with a highly nutritious diet aids a speedier recovery."
She too must have been fitted with the bog standard NHS Management Chip. It sounds like some of these automata have a long way to go.
Source: The Times 20/10/09