Vitamin pillsThe Campaign for Better Hospital Food today published new figures showing that the government spends more on nutritional supplements for hospital patients than on food served to them during their stay.

In 2012 the NHS spent more than £300 million on nutritional supplements for patients who are malnourished, have specific dietary requirements or are lacking in nutrients like vitamins and fibre, yet spent less than this amount on food for patients.

As many as 50,000 people a year could be dying with malnutrition in NHS hospitals in England and the majority of patients admitted to hospital lose weight during their stay.

Lady Cumberlege will today introduce a Hospital Food Bill to the House of Lords for debate. The Bill would set mandatory quality standards for all patient meals, including standards to ensure that they are nutritious and made to minimum standards of production. 97 national organisations, including the Royal College of Physicians, Patients Association, British Dietetic Association and the British Heart Foundation, are calling on David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt to give government support to the legislation.

While hospital food in England does not have to meet mandatory standards, the majority of food served in public sector institutions in the UK does. This includes school food, food served in prisons and government departments, as well as patient meals in Wales and Scotland. The Bill seeks to rectify this anomaly and extend quality standards to patient meals in England.