Yorkshire hospitals are spending as little as £3.30 on patient meals as food budgets fall, health figures reveal.
Spending details showed hospital food budgets are being cut across the region even as food cost go up.
The health trusts covering some of North Yorkshire’s biggest hospitals saw some of the region’s lowest spending per head on food for patients.
At Selby Hospital just £3.32 was spent per patient, with York Hospital managing just £3.36.
The York Teaching Hospital Trust figures were the lowest in the region, based on figures released under Freedom of information requests.
In Leeds health chiefs spent £10.10 per head on patient’s food at sites such as the General Infirmary. The food budget is down from £11.71 in 2010.
And in many cases the food figures showed the worrying cost of wasted hospital food.
In the last four years some £871,000 has been spent on food which was left uneaten by patients in North Yorkshire and Leeds hospitals.
The Department for Health has published new mandatory food standards after years of complaints, but the NHS’s own food quality survey shows worries remain.
At the Leeds General Infirmary the quality of the food served managed 87 per cent backing, way below what is expected by officials and enough to rank it as a source of concern.
The same trust’s Seacroft Hospital saw only 70 per cent of those asked ranking the quality of food as good enough, a result which is flagged up as a concern on the NHS food website.
The York Hospital also came out terribly, with a 79 per cent rating for the the quality of food meaning the hospital is listed as below national standards.
Scarborough Hospital saw similar low rankings, despite being the focus of a 2011 BBC project in which celebrity chef James Martin set out to improve hospital food standards.
Patient health groups say that while complaints about food are rare, it is important hospitals consider all aspects of care.
Robert Peacock, a board member of Healthwatch North Yorkshire, said the low rankings for Yorkshire hospitals showed there was room for improvement.
He said: “When you look at the NHS choices websites some of the results are disappointing, we can see from these surveys that food could be improved.
“Some hospitals are suffering from wider issues, Scarborough and others face recruitment issues, here seems to be a general running down at the hospital and obviously that is a far greater concern.
“The food is very important to recovery, but it is part of a much bigger issue.
Health trusts across the region have insisted the financial figures are not an indication of the quality of the food.
A spokeswoman for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The figures provided are based on the cost of providing the whole service. Efficiencies such as better buying and reduced wastage have brought down costs and the Trust has recently invested in new kitchen and dining facilities, including improvements to the ward kitchens at York Hospital.
“The NHS overall quality score is not simply down to the quality of the food itself, other factors contribute to the scoring method. Although we would clearly want our services to be ranked among the best, the 2014 scores are positive for both quality and choice at all of our sites. The quality of our food is of utmost importance to us.”
Kevin O’Regan, Hotel Services Director, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our catering staff work exceptionally hard to provide a good standard of patient meals using locally sourced and fresh products for the majority of meals. Recent patient satisfaction surveys and reports from independent assessors have praised the food served.
He added: “Although the amount of money spent per patient was slightly less in 2013/14 this did not impact on the quality of food or availability to patients.”
A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals said: “Over the past four years the quality of the food we provide has been maintained and enhanced but we have managed to reduce expenditure through retendering and logistical improvements.
“We undertake regular customer satisfaction surveys about food asking thousands of patients right across our hospitals for their views – overall this shows we provide a good service although we recognise there is always room for improvement.”