Many patients are leaving hospital meals because they look, taste and smell unappetising, according to a report out today.
The Food Watch report found that two in five have resorted to getting food delivered by family and friends.
One in four patients who needed help with eating did not get it, while almost one in five patients said they didn’t always have the choice of meal they wanted.
The survey of 2,240 patients was compiled by Patient and Public Involvement Forums.
Sharon Grant, Chair of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, which supports the forums, said the findings were disappointing.
‘Patients have every right to expect food that is nutritious, served at the appropriate temperature, meets their dietary needs and help to eat if they need it. Proper nutrition is essential to recovery both physically and psychologically.
‘Food should be of good quality and enjoyable – if it’s not it won’t be eaten and this seems to be borne out by the findings.
‘Not only will this impact upon a patient’s recovery, but is a huge waste in terms of NHS money and resources. An additional concern is the strain and cost for relatives who feel obliged to bring in substitute meals.’
Health Minister Andy Burnham said the government expected every trust to take their responsibilities on hospital food seriously.
He added: ‘Hospital food has improved greatly over the past few years. Earlier this week the independent Healthcare Commission found that nearly all trusts (over 96 per cent) were meeting the core standards on hospital food.
‘Last year, the independent Patient Environment Action Teams found that 90 per cent of hospitals were rated good or excellent for food standards compared to 17 per cent in 2002. ‘There are some excellent menus around but we recognise that more needs to be done.’
Which? will be looking at hospital food in more detail in our November edition.