Patients Served Meals Worth [Pounds Sterling]1 as Hospitals Slash Food Costs

Daily Mail (London), March 22, 2011 | Go to article overview

Patients Served Meals Worth [Pounds Sterling]1 as Hospitals Slash Food Costs


Byline: Julie-Anne Barnes

CASH-strapped health chiefs are spending an average of just over [pounds sterling]1 per patient on hospital meals as the country's sick, elderly and vulnerable people bear the brunt of swingeing cuts.

Figures show that the budget for food vital to help patients back to full health fell by about [pounds sterling]1million over a period of four years.

But while the NHS feels the financial squeeze, Scotland's convicted murderers, rapists and other criminals serving time in prison have seen the amount spent on their meals soar by [pounds sterling]500,000 over the same period.

Last night, patients' groups and politicians condemned the paltry amounts being spent on feeding the frail, sick and elderly.

And they demanded an improvement to meals being served to patients to ensure that they are being given all the proper nutrients and calories they need.

According to the figures, the average meal cost for NHS patients is [pounds sterling]1.19 and each patient has an average of [pounds sterling]2.27 spent on food for them each day.

But the average cost per day for inmates in Scottish prisons is [pounds sterling]1.38 - and this could go on to exceed patients' food costs in coming years, as the NHS budgets come under increasing pressure.

Last night, Dr Jean Turner of the Scotland Patients Association condemned the findings and said it was vital that patients were given the best food to get them back to full health.

And she said patients are, on admission to hospital, often malnourished because they have been ill and need to be given as much help as possible.

Dr Turner added: 'This seems crazy. I was always taught about nutrition for healing. If you want patients to heal well then you need to feed them well.

'We owe it to patients to take care of them. I have no problem with prisoners having decent food.

'But if you don't feed a person well what you end up with costs the NHS dear because that patient succumbs to one thing after another. …

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