A PATIENT champion has defended the hospital food served up to patients in East Lancashire, after it received poor ratings in a newly published report.

The Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals were given low scores for the choice and quality of food offered to patients, according to data published for the first time by the NHS.

But health campaigner Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, has raised concerns about the reliability of the data, insisting that East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust offers ‘excellent’ food.

He added: “There’s no-one who’s been more critical of the trust than me, but I can categorically say there’s nothing wrong with the food at their sites.

“The NHS have changed the way the figures are weighted this year, which seems to have scewed the scores a bit. I take part in the patient-led inspections every year and you obviously get the odd complaint, but I don’t believe there’s a problem.”

The Royal Blackburn scored 89 per cent for the quality of its food, which was the 314th worst score out of 1,258 hospital sites. It scored 63 per cent for choice of food, which was the eighth worst score.

Burnley General scored 92 per cent for quality, the 807th worst, and 69 per cent for choice, which was the 27th worst score.

The average cost of food, per patient, at Burnley is £11.47, which is above the average of £9.83. The cost per patient at Blackburn is £9.47.

The community hospitals in Accrington, Pendle and Clitheroe, which are also run by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT), also received below average scores.

Martin Morgan, head of estates and facilities at ELHT, said: “We appreciate that what matters most is that all patients, irrespective of their dietary requirements, have access to a choice of food and drink that is delicious, wholesome and acceptable to them.

“The trust catering service works hard to provide nutritious, value for money meals for all our patients, working closely with dietitians, speech and language therapists and other clinical staff to ensure that each patients’ needs are met.

“Patient surveys suggest we do meet patient expectations most of the time. The overall scores for food show an increase from 79.97 per cent last year to 85.74 per cent in this year’s PLACE assessment. We continue to strive to improve the products we serve based on feedback received from patients.”