Suffolk: Hospital food comes under fresh scrutiny as Campaign for Better Hospital Food survey reveals patients’ dissatisfaction

Health chiefs have vowed to order an urgent review in the wake of the Campaign for Better Hospital F

Health chiefs have vowed to order an urgent review in the wake of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food study which highlighted below national levels of patient satisfaction at Suffolk and north-east Essex hospitals. - Credit: IAN BURT

Hospital food served in the region came under fire last night after a survey revealed patients’ high levels of dissatisfaction over bedside meals even though catering costs continue to spiral.

Health chiefs have vowed to order an urgent review in the wake of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food study which highlighted below national levels of patient satisfaction at Suffolk and north-east Essex hospitals.

Less than half of patients questioned at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust said the standard of food was “good” despite the hospital spending 57% more than the national average on meals at £13.59 a head – the fifth highest amount out of 156 NHS hospital trusts in England.

The survey also found that staff at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust gave their patient food services a five-star rating, but only 51% of quizzed patients described the food as “good”.

It is also emerged that 13% of meals are wasted before reaching patients at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – twice the national average and the sixth worst in the survey.


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But there was better news for West Stuffolk with 67% of patients rating the food as “good”.

Bosses at the region’s hospitals insisted their catering services provided a wide range of quality meals, arguing they regularly incorporate the feedback of patients when designing menus.

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But Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said it was “time for the Government to come clean” about the “sorry state of hospital food” in England.

He added: “Surely patients recovering in hospital have the same right to good food as Government ministers, school kids and prisoners?”

Only 48% of Ipswich Hospital patients described their meals as “good”, some 7% below the survey average.

It comes after hospital staff gave a four-star rating to the quality of the trust’s food in the latest Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) assessment, according to the study. Food at the hospital is provided by private caterers ISS.

Jan Ingle, spokesman for Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, said the hospital treats the quality of food served to patients “extremely seriously”.

“It’s an area of strong focus for us,” she said. “We constantly monitor the standard of the food we serve to our patients.

“This includes having patients, and patients’ representatives, actually tasting the food, especially new menus, and getting them involved in designing menus.

“But we will consider the findings of the survey very carefully and will happily act upon its findings.”

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital with in-house catering services, said a “flexible approach” ensured the needs of patients were met.

“We regularly survey patients about food and have made improvements as a result of the feedback we receive,” he added.

“We do our best to provide patients with tasty and nutritional food within the finite resources available to us, but are always receptive to ideas about how we can improve further.”

A West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust spokesman admitted the hospital’s wastage rate was higher than they would wish, but explained: “It is often due to the fact that the patient ordering the food has been discharged prior to it arriving.

“We are reviewing this issue as part of our patient quality and sustainability initiatives and we expect that by shortening the time between ordering and serving the food this will improve.”

He added their onsite catering team “worked hard” to offer a choice of meals which met special dietary requirements.

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