Ward a waste: 300,000 meals a year are binned at Sunderland hospitals

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More than a third of meals a year are thrown away in Sunderland hospitals, claims a new study.

Pressure group the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, says its research shows at least in one every four meals served to patients in NHS hospitals nationwide goes uneaten.

The organisation has analysed data from the Home and Communities Agency and Acute NHS Trusts nationwide, which it says show more than 30million NHS patient meals are thrown away each year, with each trust binning an average of 190,994 meals.

The group says the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust produced 1,019,331 meals in a year, of which the equivalent of 299,677 went uneaten, a waste rate of 36.4 per cent.

It comes after an Echo online poll in which 62 per cent of readers said they didn’t think hospital food was of a good standard.

Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: “The Government has been steadfast in its refusal to have the quality of hospital food, and hospital food waste, monitored by an independent organisation.

Patients need nourishing, wholesome meals which are appetising and tasty to eat, not soulless, factory-made food they clearly can’t stomach.

Alex Jackson, Co-ordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food

“Instead, it’s happy to use dodgy statistics to bury the true extent of patient dissatisfaction with what they’re being served.

“But these shocking figures lift the lid on the appalling state of hospital food in our country.

“Patients need nourishing, wholesome meals which are appetising and tasty to eat, not soulless, factory-made food they clearly can’t stomach.

“We want the Government to fix hospital food for good by setting higher hospital food standards, putting them into legislation, and getting meals independently inspected by an organisation trusted by patients and NHS staff.”

The Government asks hospitals to monitor their own food waste, and calculate how much food is wasted in preparing meals before they are served.

They are not asked to inspect the amount of food wasted by patients.

Last year, the Government set hospital food standards for the first time, but campaigners say they don’t go far enough.

A spokesman for the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are rated as one of the best Trusts in the country for our catering service, but it is inevitable that a certain amount of waste is created by serving hundreds of patients and staff every day.

“We do our utmost to provide a varied and healthy range of meals, and constantly monitor the choices available and the most popular preferences.

“The catering team works with the Trust nutritional steering group and patient representatives to develop menus.

“Special diets – vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, Halal, Kosher, celiac or for those with food intolerances – are available for traditional meal times and a 24/7 LiteBite service is also available.

“Food is an integral part of the service we provide in treating and rehabilitating patients, and ensuring their recovery is aided by the healthy catering choices that are made available.99,697 went uneaten.

Echo readers were quick to give their verdict on hospital food on our Facebook page

Gillian Buckley wrote: “I’ve stayed in SRH lately and a private hospital.

“I have to say that I enjoyed the food in SRH more. It was always served with a friendly smile.

“Couldn’t complain.”

Louise Bates added: “If people want 5-star food, pay for it, after all the treatment and food is free.”

Tom Drinkald posted: “Just come out of Sunderland hospital and I have no complaints at all.

“In fact some of the food was really tasty.”

Emma Louise Wilson said: “The food I had when on the maternity ward was nice actually.”

Becki Louise Roberts wrote: “When I was in (kept in after the birth of my baby) wasn’t very nice, but there’s some cheap bakers along Chester Road so I got my fiancé to get me some sarnies and crisps.”

Julie Blumer posted: “Stayed in S/land Royal Hospital in March this year couldn’t complain.”

Emma Louise Bollands added: “Food at Sunderland Maternity Suite was good when I was there for a week last year.”

Vicky Green wrote: “When I had to stay in it was ok, some things were s little bland.

“All the sandwiches taste same no matter what the filling was.”

Andrew Tilly said: “I had occasion to stay in hospital recently and found the meals to be totally acceptable. They were tasty, hot and filling.”

Gary Wilson posted: “I’ve only stayed twice and on both occasions found the food more than acceptable.”