This independent report looks at in-patient food, drink and meal service preferences while in hospital and provides a patient-centred insight into the experience of patient meals, which is supported by a series of recommendations for food service providers and hospitals to help ensure patients are getting what they want and need.

We receive feedback from patients and carers about their experience of food and drink from many sources: our national helpline, patient surveys, feedback in interviews with patients and carers. These sources provide first-hand evidence of the importance patients place on good nutrition. Patient outcomes and experience could be improved by ensuring that nutrition is integral to the management of care for all patient groups as it is fundamental to good health and recovery.

The report is based on over 750 interviews in six acute hospitals with feedback from patients giving some clear messages about what is important to them about hospital food. Drawing on the views of patients we set out our recommendations which we hope will inform improvements in the quality of nutrition and hydration in hospitals and other care settings.


The top aspects of importance for patients regarding hospital food from a prompted list were:

  • 'Tastes good’ (20% of mentions)
  • ‘Right amount of choice’ (15% of mentions)
  • ‘Food at the right temperature’ (also 15% of mentions)
  • ‘Looks appealing’ which followed closely in fourth place (13% of mentions)
  • 75% of patients said they would be likely or extremely likely to recommend the total meal experience.

Patients have very specific food preferences for breakfast and are particular about how these choices are served. There are a wide range of preferences for main meals – choice is very important.

Patients expressed good levels of satisfaction with the meal service:

  • Average scores for meals and drinks were from 7.3 to 7.4 out of 10
  • Staff service averaged a score of 8.5 out of 10
  • 75% of patients who responded to the survey said they would be likely or extremely likely to recommend the total meal experience to friends and family if they were an in-patient at the hospital.

Read the full report

For more information please contact Heather Eardley, Head of Projects and Partnerships, via email or call 07872 633 189