A national newspaper has published a damning report on the state of hospital kitchens up and down the land.
Hundreds of hospital kitchens across the country are dirty, have cockroach and mice infestations or are stocking out of date food, according to an investigation by MailOnline.
Inspectors found that three-quarters of kitchens are flouting basic food hygiene rules while nearly a third were not properly cleaned.
The report said that hospitals were spending as little as £3 a day per patient, estimating that 82,000 meals a day are thrown out.
Campaigners told the paper that it was unacceptable that the public never find out about dirty kitchens “until they are teased out using Freedom of Information requests”.
An analysis of 769 environmental health inspection reports revealed that 581 hospitals across Britain are breaking the rules.
Inspectors found 229 kitchens were dirty while a further 62 were stocking out of date food.
The MailOnline said it had obtained copies of reports carried out by environmental health teams under the Freedom of Information Act.
Incidents included mouse droppings and a ‘serious cockroach infestation that posed an imminent risk to health’ in an undercroft being discovered at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, Kent, last November.
At Royal Oldham Hospital, meanwhile, two cockroaches were found in the raw food preparation area in March. Inspectors also found out of date yoghurts in a ward fridge, the paper said.
At Harefield Hospital, London, in May last year, inspectors found patients were being forced to eat their meals off paper plates because the dishwasher had broken down.
Roger Goss, co-director of Patient Concern, told the paper that hospital kitchens should not have bug infestations when the whole focus is on getting people in and out of hospital as quickly as possible.
“The NHS claims to be open and transparent but they hide the results of their kitchen inspection reports,” he said. “We only ever find out about malpractice if it is teased out via a Freedom of Information request. Hospitals should publish these reports online immediately — that is true transparency.”
A spokesperson for NHS England, said: “Healthcare providers have a duty to ensure that the environment that food is prepared and stored in meets the highest standards of safety and hygiene. Anything less is unacceptable and we would expect immediate action to be taken at any hospitals where these high standards aren’t being met.”