NHS food wastage figures revealed as Yorkshire's hospitals throw away almost £150,000 worth

Almost £150,000 worth of food has been wasted in hospitals across Yorkshire, NHS figures show.

The NHS figures show the average food wasted by each trust in England that separated their waste in 2019-20 was 61 tonnes. Photo: Adobe

The figures, covering the financial year 2019/2020, show that Harrogate and Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS trusts had the highest value of food wasted with £40,530 and £44,724 respectively wasted.

The figures across the region are likely to be higher as they only cover food that has been separated into digestion or compostable waste, and do not include figures from Trusts where food all goes into general waste.

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The 12 Trusts in Yorkshire that recorded figures had a combined wastage total of £149,397.

But Harrogate Trust defended the figures, stating they were so high because all food is prepared freshly on site.

A Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “It’s important to recognise that we are one of very few NHS trusts who continue to provide freshly cooked/prepared meals to our patients and staff, prepared on site. This means we create waste from foodstuffs like vegetables which result in waste, such as potato peelings and broccoli stalks. All our food waste is collected by a specialised food waste company and sent to an Anaerobic Digesting plant in Doncaster.

“Working closely with clinical colleagues and listening to patients, we continuously strive for the high quality, highly nutritious food and a diverse and varied menu.”

The NHS figures show the average food wasted by each trust in England that separated their waste in 2019-20 was 61 tonnes. In Yorkshire, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust wasted some 108.4 tonnes of food.

Rob Percival, head of food and health policy at environmental charity the Soil Association, said the waste of inpatient meals is a significant issue within the health service but that a lack of data makes it difficult to determine the true scale of it.

Food redistribution charity FareShare said millions of people in the UK struggle to get enough to eat and that feeding people is the most environmentally friendly thing to do with surplus food.

A spokesperson said: “As we’ve demonstrated throughout the pandemic, FareShare is ready at any time to receive large scale offers of food, and through our networks of 30 regional centres and 11,000 charities across the UK, get it to people who need it most,” a spokesperson said.

Sustainable food charity FeedBack said that several trusts had moved from in-house kitchens to outsourced services involving pre-plated frozen meals, which could be behind the drop in surplus food last year.

Last year the Department for Health and Social Care released a new strategy to improve food across hospitals, including improving patient choice over when they could have their meals.