See what's on the menu at your local hospital
Some Merseyside hospitals spend four times more than others on providing meals for patients, figures show.
Broadgreen Hospital spends more than £22 per patient, while Liverpool Women’s Hospital spends just £5.10 - but both are ranked among the best.
The majority of local hospitals provide much better meals than hospitals elsewhere in the UK, according to a study.
Patients and inspectors rated every English hospital’s food in 2015, looking at everything from taste and temperature to presentation and preparation of the ward for mealtimes.
But the My NHS website says: “There is no simple relationship between the amount spent on food and quality. Some hospitals provide excellent food at low cost.
“It is the total cost of providing food and drink,including provisions, equipment and staff. It is not just the cost of the food.”
Liverpool’s Royal, Broadgreen and Women’s hospitals and St Helens, Whiston and Ormskirk were praised for having fresh fruit available and snacks between meals, though Southport’s hospital did not.
Both hospitals, run by the same NHS trust, scored among the highest in the country for food quality, with the Royal achieving 94% and Broadgreen 98%.
While the Royal spends £12.15 for each patient on meal provision, Broadgreen spends a lot more, with costs of £22.15 per patient.
But the choice of breakfasts is ranked as merely “OK” at both sites compared to other hospitals.
The trust said it had a wide range of menus, from Halal, Afro-Caribbean and Oriental ones to specific allergen-free, gluten-free puree, fork mashable menus and one for people with kidney problems.
The main menu has a choice of three mains and four sides each day, from fish and chips to gammon and pineapple, salmon and potato au gratin to Hungarian goulash.
Lunches include omelettes, a wide range of sarnies, soup and salads, while snacks like Dairylea and crackers, custard pots, fruit, cake bars and biscuits are available 24/7.
Lisa Grant, chief nurse, said: “Through working closely with dieticians and suppliers, we offer patients a wide range of nutritious meals which can be selected from a specially designed menu according to patients’ individual dietary requirements.
“Options include our oriental menu, which we worked closely with the Liverpool Chinese community to launch.
“We are constantly asking patients what they think about the meals so we can continuously improve what we offer. In our latest survey, 93% of patients were satisfied with the quality and presentation of their meals.”
The quality and range of food at the Fazakerley hospital is ranked among the best in the country, scoring 90% for quality.
The Aintree University Hospital trust spends £8.03 a day per patient on preparing food.
One recent menu says food is freshly prepared on site, with a move towards light, healthier lunches and more traditional evening meals in 2016.
There was a choice of six mains and four sides for dinner every day, from roasted meats and salads to Irish stew and beef curry.
Lunches available included soups, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, salads and fruit, jelly and ice cream, and a range of hot desserts like rice pudding, rhubarb crumble and applie pie.
The hospital also offer a “finger food box” of cold items tailored to patients with smaller appetites or dementia.
The Women’s hospital also featured among the highest ranked in England, with a 97% score for food quality.
The hospital only spends £5.10 per patient on making meals - less than four times the costs at Broadgreen.
Jeff Johnston, director of operations, said: “We are proud that Liverpool Women’s is consistently ranked as being among the best Trusts for the provision of patient meals.
“As well as working with our catering providers to continuously focus on the quality of food that we offer to patients, we also look to ensure that food supplies are utilised efficiently.
“This helps us to offer a wide range of high quality meals to our patients whilst simultaneously minimising waste.”
Caterers Medirest run food provision at the three hospitals, with food quality ranked at 95% at Whiston, 97% at St Helens and no figures available for the Heart and Chest site by Broadgreen Hospital.
£8.48 is spent per patient at both St Helens and Whiston hospitals, with breakfast choice ranked among the best.
A Medirest spokeswoman said around 30 items are available overall each day, such as beef lasagne and teriyaki salmon, sandwiches, soups and salads.
St Helens and Whiston also use blue plates, ‘finger-food’ options and smaller portions tailored for people with dementia.
She added: “At Medirest we work closely with our clients to continually deliver a high-quality and nutritional food offer to meet the requirements of our patients.”
Health chiefs did not collect figures for Alder Hey, but a hospital spokesman said it provided a wide range of healthy choices.
He said: “Alder Hey in the Park is the first NHS paediatric hospital in the UK to feature dedicated chefs on every patient ward. It means we can provide high quality and nutritional meals at a time which suits our patients and fits within their treatment schedule.
“We are proud that offer a wide range of healthy choices for our patients and families. The food and nutrition children receive plays an important part in their treatment and recovery, especially for children who stay for long periods or need to be admitted regularly.”
The Southport and Formby hospital was ranked among the best for food quality with an 89% score but only in the middle for choice available, scoring 74%.
It spends £6.66 per patient preparing meals each day, while Ormskirk hospital spends £9 per patient.
Ormskirk, part of the same NHS trust, ranked among the highest for both quality and choice, with an 87% score for food quality.