Food binned at Northampton General Hospital costs NHS £70,000 over five years

NGH said  22 tonnes of food was sent to be made into renewable energy last year.
NGH said 22 tonnes of food was sent to be made into renewable energy last year.

Almost 80,000 meals at Northampton General Hospital have been binned in five years but staff say tonnes of food waste has since been made into renewable energy.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to Northampton General Hospital has revealed that 78,365 meals have been thrown away since 2014, which has cost the NHS £72,767.

The gross cost to provide each inpatient with three meals a day is £2.91 per patient, which NGH says, is below the national NHS benchmark value.

Between August 2014 and August 2015 data showed Northampton General Hospital was throwing away the most food at 20,137 meals per year.

But a spokeswoman for NGH said the hospital has since made improvements to reduce waste by turning it into renewable energy.

She told the Chronicle & Echo: "We are proud to have reduced the number of wasted meals by 39 per cent since 2014 and will continue to work to reduce this number further.

"In 2018 we sent 22 tonnes of food waste to be anaerobically digested and produce renewable energy.

"As well as this we work to be as sustainable as possible by using local suppliers, sustainably sourcing our food and freshly preparing meals. By implementing new initiatives we hope to reduce our food waste further and keep providing our patients with good quality meals."

This is backed up by the latest figures, which have shown that between August 2018 and August 2019, NGH threw away 13,559 meals - 6,578 meals less than five years ago.

However, there are other reasons, for food going to waste, which the hospital explained.

The spokeswoman added: “We don’t give any food waste away from patient areas as it is considered a potential infection risk.

"There are a variety of reasons why patients may not eat their meals. These include; patients who have left the ward for treatment, feeling too unwell to eat their meal or a reduction in appetite linked to treatment, and patients who have been discharged after their food has been ordered."

To help to reduce wastage the NGH catering team have now introduced smaller portions for patients with a reduced appetite and texture modified meals, which prevent patients being given meals, which are unsuitable for their needs.

Based on an average day rate, costs of meals from August 2014 have cost:

Between August 2014 and August 2015, 20,137 meals costing an estimated 90p per portion were thrown in the bin costing the NHS £18,123.
Between August 2015 and August 2016 14,652 meals costing an estimated 92p per portion were thrown in the bin costing the NHS £13,479.
Between August 2016 and August 2017 16,744 meals costing an estimated 92p per portion were thrown in the bin costing the NHS £15,404.
Between August 2017 and August 2018 13, 273 meals costing an estimated 95p per portion were thrown in the bin costing the NHS £12, 609.
Between August 2018 and August 2019, 13, 559 meals costing an estimated 97p per portion were thrown in the bin costing the NHS £13,152.