Good hospital food needn’t cost more

16 October 2013

Figures released from the Health and Social Care Information Centre yesterday reveal that spending on patient food varies widely between hospitals – with the cost of patient food per day ranging from as little as £2.55 up to £31.00.(1)

Amy Leech, policy officer at the Soil Association said; “In recent years we have seen some catering budgets squeezed as hospitals seek to make savings. These budget cuts may look good on a spread sheet, but what is the impact on a recovering patient? In the long run, serving cheap, unappetising, unhealthy and untraceable food to patients is not good value, for taxpayers, British farmers or hospitals, as they work to get people better.”

Food served in hospitals is an integral part of good patient care; it saves lives and doesn’t have to cost more. Five hospitals from North Bristol NHS Trust, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust serve fresh, healthy, traceable and ethical food under the Food for Life Catering Mark, at a cost of between £7.20 and £9.29 per day. All five hospitals have a lower than average spend – proof that great hospital food is possible and can be affordable.

Catering Mark-accredited hospitals also champion British and local food producers, with the result that for every £1 spent on a Food for Life Catering Mark menu there is a social return on investment of more than £3 to the local community, mostly in the form of new jobs and contracts for local food producers.

Andreas Wingert, Head Chef at Circle, said; “Great hospital food doesn’t have to cost the earth. We’ve transformed the food we serve patients at Hinchingbrooke by focussing on getting the best, locally-sourced ingredients and cooking everything fresh. We now have much less waste, happier patients and great relationships with our local farms. What’s important is listening to what patients want.”

Costs for Catering Mark hospital food per patient per day (2)
• Hinchingbrooke Hospital (Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust) = £7.30 - Bronze Catering Mark
• Nottingham City Hospital (Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust) = £8.67 – Bronze Catering Mark
• Queens Medical Centre (Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust) = £9.29 – Bronze Catering Mark
• Southmead Hospital (North Bristol NHS Trust) = £8.10 – Silver Catering Mark
• Frenchay Hospital (North Bristol NHS Trust) = £7.40 – Silver Catering Mark

1. The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s ‘Estates Returns Information Collection’ annual report for 2012/13, published– 15th Oct 13. Every Trust and Hospital must report on key issues annually, including a section on hospital food.
2. Figures taken from the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s ‘Estates Returns Information Collection’ annual report for 2012/13

Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust, run by Circle Partnership

Circle Partnership is an employee-co-owned hospital group which won a bid to run the NHS hospital at Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdonshire two years ago.

The group brought over their Michelin-starred Head Chef from their private hospital to transform food. Now, all meals are prepared in one kitchen, 1,200 meals are served daily (438,000 per year), and 86% of meals are freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients, with all meat and vegetables sourced from Huntingdonshire farms. All eggs are free range and all pork, lamb and beef is Freedom Food certified. Patient satisfaction with the food quality is now at an all-time high of 95%.

For further information or interviews please contact Tom Muir, Head of Communications
DT:020 7034 1278 M:07515 313 771

North Bristol NHS Trust – thinking local

North Bristol NHS Trust uses fresh, local and sustainable food to reduce environmental impact and give their patients the best food possible at a fair price. They have achieved the Soil Association’s Silver Food for Life Catering Mark – an independent guarantee that what’s on the menu is freshly prepared, free from undesirable additives and better for animal welfare.

Working with their existing wholesalers, who were already NHS accredited, they have found local producers who could deal with the contract and accreditation requirements. Milk and cheese comes from Somerset, ice cream from Bath, all the Trust’s meat is farm assured and comes from a local butcher – they also use organic minced beef. The trust has introduced winter and summer menus to make the best use of local seasonal produce.

The Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark is an independent endorsement which guarantees freshly prepared and healthy menus outside of the home in nurseries and schools as well as in hospitals, universities and the work place.

The Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers encourage caterers to make step-by-step progress to improve the food they serve, using fresh ingredients which are free from undesirable additives and GM, and better for animal welfare. The Silver and Gold Standards recognise food providers who are taking further steps to serve local, environmentally and ethically sourced food, and to make healthy eating easier.


For further information, please contact:

Natasha Collins-Daniel - Press Office Manager – 0117 914 2448 / 07827 925380 / @SoilAssociation


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