NHS hospital feeding patients for just £2.61 a day – less than cost of McDonald's Happy Meal

Apr 16, 2018
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An NHS hospital is feeding its patients for less than the cost of a McDonald’s Happy Meal each day, figures suggest.

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital spends £2.61 on food for each patient per day, the lowest in the country.

Meanwhile – just 10 miles away – Cheltenham General Hospital spends only £3.63 a day.

Just a handful of hospitals nationwide spend under £4 a day, according to the new figures.

Only 13 hospital sites said they spent less than £5 per patient each day last year.

That includes Ross-on-Wye Community hospital, which shells out £4.80 per day on food for each patient, Gloucester Live reported.

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital spends £2.61 on food for each patient per day

This compares to £39.60 per day in the most expensive hospital in the country in Ascot, Berkshire.

The national average was £11 per day.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said the figures were not an accurate reflection of actual expenditure because it is one of the few hospitals with an on-site kitchen – a cost not factored into the figures.

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Labour said the figures show a “postcode lottery in hospital catering” that undermines official guidance which warns that malnutrition is closely linked with illness.

What can you get for £2.61?

McDonald’s

Not a lot. Even a children’s happy meal comes in at £2.79 but the breakfast menu is cheaper and a double bacon and egg McMuffin is £2.59. You could get a basic cheeseburger and medium fries from the saver menu and have around 50p left over for the rest of the day.

Subway

Again, not a lot but the sub of the say deal is a six inch filled roll for £2.49. That means you’d have 12p for breakfast and tea.

Supermarket meal deal

Sorry, no. Tesco charges £3 for a sandwich, snack and drink. Most of the others charge around the same or even more.

Greggs

The breakfast special comes in at £2.25 but you could just porridge for breakfast, a 90p sausage roll for lunch and probably still have a bit left over. Don’t go upmarket though. The wagyu beef steak bake is a fiver.

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Labour’s Jon Ashworth said the figures exposed a “postcode lottery” in hospital food expenditure

Labour Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: “When as a society we have seen a doubling of admissions to hospital for malnutrition in the last eight years, when there are over 600,000 obesity-related hospital admissions, and indeed when we learn there have been 351 deaths where malnutrition was a factor then it’s time we look again at how we deliver food and sustenance to patients in hospital.

“Patient care isn’t just about medicines, bandages, treatments and surgical procedures, it’s about nutrition and hydration as well.

“And yet we have allowed a situation where some hospitals according to the official data are spending less than £3 a day on patient meals.”

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But a spokesman for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust strongly denied being cheapskates.

The trust said: “Regrettably, the figures as presented are not an accurate reflection of the trust’s spend on patient meals per day and consequently comparisons with other hospitals across the country are not like-for-like.

“The data used for Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, one of the few hospitals in this region that has an on-site kitchen, excludes significant capital costs which are included in hospitals where the service has been outsourced.

“Our kitchens are five star-rated by the Food Standards Agency and our catering team are proud of the quality and choice of food that they provide, a point recognised in the most recent patient-led inspection of our food.”

The figures come from NHS Digital and were analysed by Labour.

Labour say there has been a 122% increase in the overall number of people admitted to hospital with malnutrition as primary or secondary diagnosis since 2010.

According to the Office of National Statistics, malnutrition was the underlying cause or a contributory factor in 351 deaths in NHS hospitals in England and Wales in 2016.

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