Hundreds of meals are left ‘untouched’ by patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital every week — leaving taxpayers with a sour taste in their mouths.
Around 49,200 dishes served up by cooks were returned uneaten last year, with the cost of feeding patients topping nearly £8 a day.
The next major step is a trial which is shortly to commence for electronic patient meal ordering
It means piles of food went straight in the bin at a time the cash-strapped NHS is struggling to make ends meet, with millions of pounds of savings being made every year across the Fylde coast.
Despite the wastage, hospital bosses received just eight complaints about the state of the food, which was all cooked in-house using local suppliers and made up a total of 820,000 meals.
The figures, released under freedom of information laws, have led to calls for a change in the way meals are currently ordered, when patients order the following day’s three meals on an evening.
One Vic nurse said: “We are feeding the patients who were in the ward the night before. If they are still there they get the meal.
“Really the ward staff should be calling the kitchen [if they need to cancel a meal], but it’s not done on computer, it’s done the night before with menus.
“If you had it on a computer system, you could hit a button and the patient would not get a meal, but we don’t have that here.”
A hospital spokeswoman said a new electronic ordering system is set to be trialled in the near future.
She said most wards currently order the following day’s meals the previous night, though some wards have to order in the morning.
Menus offer a variety of foods, including a vegetarian option, and work on a two-week cycle.
They cost an average of £2.65 each, meaning a potential £130,380 worth was left untouched in 2016/17.
“The trust is proud of the quality of its service and has just received its latest maximum five star food hygiene rating for the seventh consecutive year,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
“The next major step is a trial which is shortly to commence for electronic patient meal ordering.
“This will include significant nutritional and allergen information, dementia-friendly picture menus and will be supported by ward housekeeper to help patients in their meal choices.”
Of the eight complaints made about the food, which is the same as served to staff in the canteen, four were patients receiving the wrong meal.
Three said their food was too hot or cold, while one had a complaint about their special dietary requirements, a request made under the Freedom of Information Act showed.