Spending on maintaining buildings, cleaning hospitals and feeding patients in the NHS has risen by nearly 8 per cent in a year despite a fall in the number of beds, Department of Health figures reveal.

The hospital estates and facilities statistics for 2010-11, published on Tuesday, show the cost of NHS estate and hotel services rose from £6.6bn in 2009-10 to £7.1bn in 2010-11.

At the same time the number of occupied beds in the health service fell by nearly 4,000 to 125,000.

Spending on “hard” facilities management – for the physical maintenance of buildings and equipment – rose by more than £320m or 8.5 per cent.

These costs now amount to £4.1bn across the NHS in England. More than half of this spending was contracted out of the NHS.

The cost of feeding patients has also risen, by 6.5 per cent. The cost to feed a patient for a day is now £8.58, up by 52p on 2009-10.

Meanwhile, cleaning costs rose by 4.5 per cent and nearly 15 per cent more was paid to patients and visitors through the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme, whose cost hit £9.7m.

Over the same period, the rate of inflation was 5.3 per cent, according to the consumer price index.