9,000 hospital meals end up in the bin – in just a week
HOSPITALS in the West are wasting four tonnes of food a week – with the equivalent of around 9,000 meals per week ending up in the bin.
Figures from NHS Digital show 4.5 tonnes worth of food was left on the serving trolley in a single week at the trusts covering the area in March this year. If an average main meal is around 500g, that would mean around 9,000 meals a week are going to waste.
Unserved meals often happened when they 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 588kg of starters, 2.9 tonnes of main meals and 983kg of desserts.
Royal United Hospital in Bath had the highest levels of waste, with 835kg 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 cafés and restaurants, or food that was given to patients and then not eaten.
Research by WRAP, a charity that works with businesses, individuals and communities to reduce waste and improve sustainability, suggests only 8 per cent of food waste in hospitals may be due to unserved meals.
Trusts across the West
spent £27.1 million on inpatient food services in 2017/18, and served up 7.8 million main meals last year.
The average cost of feeding a patient for a day ranged from £6.55 at St Leonards Community Hospital in Dorset to £19.34 at the Wareham Community Hospital.
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.
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.
WRAP’s advice for healthcare providers on how they can cut waste suggests reducing the amount of unserved meals by ensuring meal ordering forms are properly filled out, with support for patients who need help.
As well as putting in place confirmation of the number of meals needed just before service starts, they suggest making systems flexible – so patient meals can be transferred between wards if someone moves and cancels, or orders at short notice, with ‘just in case’ meal ordering discouraged.
The advice also suggests using unserved patients meals in the hospital restaurant.
Overall, NHS trusts spent £590 million on inpatient food services in 2017/18, with 141 million main meals requested last year.
274 Tonnes of food that went to waste in NHS trust hospitals in England during
one week in March this year