Statistics compiled by the NHS Information Centre show Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals along with St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, ranks favourably among other trusts nationwide with a daily spend of £8.46 per head.
The top spender is Wiltshire Primary Care Trust, which shells out a hefty £22.31 per day, while the most frugal is Somerset PCT, with a daily spend of just £2.75.
The figures, revealed at the end of last week, did initially show the trust spent only £2.57 per person per day, with many media outlets reporting them as the lowest spender.
But they have since said this was an error, as the first figure was only for the ingredients and did not incorporate other costs such as cooking and serving it, and have since amended the amount.
Paul Hatcher, director of estates and facilities, said: “Unlike other trusts, the figure represents only the cost of ingredients, and not the total spent on sourcing, preparing, cooking and serving food and drink.
“If those costs are included our figure is £8.46 per patient, per day.
“The last reports from the Patient Experience Action Teams rated patient food at all three of our hospitals as ‘excellent’, and in the last national inpatient survey our trust was rated by patients as being fractionally outside the top 20 per cent in the country for the standard of food.”
Jim Sewell, patient representative for the Patient Experience Action Teams, said: “We do monthly inspections, unannounced, to assess the standards of the food.
“Patients consistently give us very good feedback, and rate the food very highly. When I think of the old days, it is far better than it ever used to be.”
Items on the trust’s menu include braised lamb in cider with parsley dumplings, chicken with mustard and tarragon, cheese, potato and leek bake and beef casserole.
There is also a daily choice of puddings, a starter and vegetarian options.