Fewer hospital meals wasted

Hospital food
Hospital food
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Fewer meals are being binned at Sheffield’s hospitals, figures have revealed.

According to official statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, more than 115,000 meals went to waste at the city’s NHS trusts last year, compared with almost 200,000 in 2011-12.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals - which runs the Royal Hallamshire, Weston Park and Northern General hospitals - saw just over 88,350 meals go uneaten in 2012-13, down on 107,765 the previous year.

At Sheffield Children’s Hospital, 4,956 dinners went to waste last year, a drop from 7,804 in 2011-12, while Sheffield Health and Social Care saw a big decrease in binned food, from more than 83,000 meals two years ago to 21,780 last year.

Kevin O’Regan, hotel services director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said staff had been ‘working hard to develop ways of ensuring patients are encouraged to eat well’.

“We are pleased to see the amount of food wastage has been reduced,” he said.

“New initiatives include nutrition assistant volunteers, who are crucial members of staff concentrating on helping vulnerable patients to eat, the introduction of snack boxes and lite-bite meal options, and in some areas staff have created a more comfortable meal-time environment.”

The trust spent £6.29 per day feeding each inpatient.

Mr O’Regan added: “More than £7m has also been invested in some of the latest catering facilities, which has meant patients can now choose their meal from a mobile counter on the ward rather than pre-ordering earlier in the day.

“That minimises the chances of meals being wasted because a patient’s appetite has changed or because they no longer want their original choice.”

Wasted meals were also cut by two thirds from 32,180 in 2011-12 to 9,194 last year at Barnsley Hospital. But in Doncaster and Rotherham, more food was binned, with 71,210 and 22,602 meals uneaten at the towns’ hospitals last year.