31 Aug This is how much food goes to waste in Coventry and Warwick…
Hospitals in Coventry and Warwickshire are wasting two tonnes of food a week – with the equivalent of around 4,000 meals per week ending up in the bin.
The Government has announced a review to improve food quality in hospitals and has brought in Bake Off’s Prue Leith to act as an adviser.
Figures from NHS Digital show 2.2 tonnes worth of food was left on the serving trolley in a single week at the trusts covering the area in March 2018.
If an average main meal is around 500g, that would mean around 4,300 meals a week are going to waste.
Unserved meals often occur when meals are ordered for patients who are then discharged or taken for treatment, or where extra meals have been prepared just in case a patient wants one.
The total was made up of 12kg of starters, 1.7 tonnes of main meals and 466kg of desserts.
University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust had the highest levels of waste, with 1.4 tonnes of food left on trolleys at hospital in the week of monitoring.
The actual amount of food waste at the trust is likely to be even higher, as the figures don’t include any waste in the preparation of meals, waste in cafes and restaurants, or food that was given to patients and then not eaten.
Trusts across Coventry and Warwickshire spent £12.5million on inpatient food services in 2017/18, and served up 2.2 million main meals last year.
The average cost of feeding a patient for a day ranged from £13.30 at Warwick Hospital to £23.80 at Ellen Badger Hospital.
Tonnes of food left unserved
NHS trusts across England were asked to measure the amount of unserved meals remaining on trolleys at the end of lunch and dinner meal services during the week beginning March 19, 2018.
The unserved starters, mains and desserts were collected and then weighed, with the totals over the week calculated.
Cost of meal services and food waste at trusts covering Coventry and Warwickshire
|Site||Trust||Inpatient food cost 17/18||Number of meals requested 17/18||Cost of feeding one patient a day||Total unserved meals (kg) in one week|
|Warwick Hospital||South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust||£1,859,732||419,160||£13.30||274|
|Stratford Hospital||South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust||£102,443||21,327||£14.41||7|
|Royal Leamington Spa Hospital||South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust||£444,630||58,197||£22.92||16|
|Ellen Badger Hospital||South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust||£148,078||18,615||£23.80||6|
|University Hospital||University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust||£7,326,786||1,125,224||£13.75||1,405|
|Hospital of St Cross||University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust||£855,883||154,551||£18.62||210|
|George Eliot Hospital||George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust||£1,737,855||393,354||£13.63||234|
Across England, more than 273 tonnes of food went unserved at NHS trusts in the week in March, including around 32 tonnes of starters, 179 tonnes of mains, and 63 tonnes of desserts.
Overall, NHS trusts spent £590m on inpatient food services in 2017/18, with 141m main meals requested last year.
What did the trusts say?
A spokesperson for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust told CoventryLive: “University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust provide 1,279,775 patient meals per year, which equates to nearly 23,670 patient meals each week.
“Due to the large amounts of meals served there are occasions where, due to medication, medical treatment or other extenuating factors, the patient may no longer want or be able to eat their meal.
“As a Trust we are continuously looking at ways to minimise food waste through innovative supplier solutions, modernised equipment and improvements in services.
“This has included the introduction of an Electronic Menu Ordering System (EMOS) at the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby to allow accurate ordering of patient meals, reducing the need to over order food.
“We are currently implementing the same system at University Hospital in Coventry, alongside new menus to offer greater choice to patients.
“Our aim of reducing food waste means we can better focus on further improving patient care.”
A spokesperson for George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust said: “George Eliot Hospital is moving towards an electronic menu system later this year which will help to reduce food waste across the Trust.”
A spokesperson for South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust said: “South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust is committed to providing patients with a nutritious and appetising diet.
“We work closely with the Soil Association to reduce food wastage and since taking part in a workshop have developed a multi-disciplinary approach to minimising waste. Staff from our dietitian, sustainability and waste management teams work with our catering suppliers ISS and our independent Patient Forum.
“Wastage is monitored and the average amount of unserved meals over a month is 3%. While this is relatively low, we take seriously the issue of wastage so are aiming to reduce this further. We do this by targeting high waste wards to understand in more detail where waste is coming from and how to tackle it; for example where patients have returned from surgery and do not feel like eating.
“In addition we regularly assess food quality and presentation.”
The review announced by the Department of Health will look at how food can help aid faster recovery, new systems to monitor food safety and quality, and how to offer healthier choices for patients, staff and visitors.
It will also look at sustainability and environmental impact of the whole supply chain, as well as sourcing food services locally and reducing reliance on frozen or packaged foods.
Restaurateur and celebrity chef Prue Leith CBE will act as an adviser to the review, drawing on her experience working in catering, high-quality restaurants and as a former chair of the School FoodTrust.
She has previously spoken out on the need for hospitals to provide healthy options that aid recovery and for meals to be tailored to the individual needs of the patient.
The review follows the deaths of 6 people linked to an outbreak of listeria in contaminated food earlier this year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Since entering Downing Street, my focus has been clear – to make sure our world-class NHS has everything it needs to continue providing the very best frontline care.
“Guaranteeing hospitals serve nutritional, tasty and fresh meals will not only aid patient recovery, but also fuel staff and visitors as they care for loved ones and the vulnerable.
“Our NHS has led the way since the day it was formed. This review will ensure it remains the standard-bearer for healthy choices, as it works unstintingly to improve the nation’s well-being.”
Responding to the announcement, BMA board of science chair Prof. Dame Parveen Kumar, said: “The commitment by the Government to improve hospital food environments is indeed welcome as much of the food provided in healthcare settings across the country falls short of what should be acceptable.
“The finding of a recent BMA survey of doctors working in hospitals highlighted the inconsistent and often poor provision of food for staff with the majority of doctors agreeing that the food provided for patients did not promote a healthy balanced diet.
“Improving hospital food is a win-win situation and it only makes sense that in an…