Norfolk hospital meal costs revealed

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is spending below the national average when it comes to feeding patients, according to new figures.

The James Paget Hospital at Gorleston spends twice as much on its patients than the N&N, according to new statistics compiled by the NHS Information Centre.

One in 10 of NHS Trusts across the country pay less than �5 a day on breakfast, lunch and dinner for each patient in their care. However, the government and health chiefs said that the money hospitals spend on food had gone up over the past five years and there was a drive to improve food quality.

Figures for 2010/11 show that it cost the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital �5.89 a day to feed a patient whilst that figure was �10.97 per patient per day at the James Paget.

NHS Norfolk pays �4.36 per patient per day and the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust �5.46.

The Department of Health said the national average had gone up from �6.53 per patient per day in 2005/06, compared to �8.58 in 2010/11.

A spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: 'Making sure patients get good quality food and are able to eat it is an essential part of nursing. At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital we provide catering for over 1,000 in-patients a day which gives us economies of scale. The modern building also enables us to operate catering services more efficiently which also helps to keep down our costs.'

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'Good nutrition is of the upmost importance and we have several initiatives in place to ensure that all patients are able to eat in an environment which is relaxing and will encourage and support them to eat well.'

There is a massive disparity in what is spent on patients around the country, according to the figures from the NHS Information Centre with Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (�2.57) at one end of the spectrum and Wiltshire PCT (�22.31) at the other end.

Jon Dack, spokesman for the James Paget Hospital, added: 'The hospital has an in house catering team that prepares and cooks all of the meals for patients, staff and visitors on site. The cost of �10.97 includes the costs of food, preparation and service of meals, the service of seven drinks per day and the staffing costs involved in preparing and serving the meals per patient, per day.'

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 said.