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Patients' food at Darent Valley Hospital ranked 7th worst in country

Hospital food in Dartford and Gravesham is the seventh worst in the country but it has some of the most expensive meals - according to a report.

Using data from the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) 2012 Inpatient Survey, The Campaign for Better Hospital Food has created a league table of the country’s hospitals, based on their food standards.

The campaign is using the data to renew calls on the government to introduce mandatory hospital food standards, similar to those that already exist for prison food and school dinners.

The Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust has been ranked poorly at 150th out of 156 hospital trusts across England. Yet it costs £12.64 for the trust feed each patient per day, compared with the national average of £8.60.

In the original CQC survey patient feedback scores are averaged and turned into a mark out of 10. The higher the score; the better the service.

Each figure can then be compared with the average score of the other trusts in the country with a “worse”, “about the same” and “better” rating.

Dartford and Gravesham only got 4.5 out of 10 for how “good” the hospital food is, but this is “about the same” as the average, as few trusts scored highly and none achieved above 7.9.

A spokesman for the CQC said: “The data only shows performance relative to other trusts: there are no absolute thresholds for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ performance. So a trust may score lowly relative to others on a certain question whilst still performing very well on the whole.”

For their choice of food Dartford and Gravesham scored much better with 7.8 out of 10. But many of the other trusts achieved near-perfect scores and comparatively this put them way down the league table at the third worst in the country - joint with three other trusts.

They were Shrewsbury and Telford, Queen Victoria and the North West London Hospital Trusts

Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the campaign, said: “It is time for the government to come clean about the sorry state of hospital food in England and set mandatory standards for patient meals.

“Surely patients recovering in hospital have the same right to good food as government Ministers, school kids and prisoners?”

The CQC statistics are based on the answers 64,500 patients across England gave, 406 of whom used Dartford and Gravesham’s services.

The food for patients, staff and visitors to DVH is all provided by the same private caterer Carillion Services,corr and is prepared and cooked in the hospital kitchen.

A spokesman for Darent Valley Hospital (DVH) said: “We are committed to improving the services that we provide to patients. Good food is an important part of any patient’s recovery.

"The results of the food section of the CQC’s survey do vary from our own anonymous internal findings and we will be looking closely at what needs to be done to improve patient satisfaction.

“The dieticians and catering staff work closely together to provide meals that include a range of choices for all patients and for those requiring special diets.

“Patients suffering from diabetes or who need a milk free, gluten free or low fat menu are also catered for.

“Easy to eat soft options, vegetarian and choices aimed at ‘heart’ health are available. Halal/kosher and vegan meals can also be requested from the nursing staff.”

In June last year the hospital invited patients’ relatives, visitors and members of the public to taste their food and get their views in order to continue improving their menu.

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