Published: 14/04/2005, Volume II5, No. 5951 Page 6

A row rupted on Tyneside this week after it was revealed that the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne is serving sick children Turkey Twizzlers - the fast food condemned by Jamie Oliver in his TV series Jamie's School Dinners.

Sample menus from the hospital's kitchen obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that an average of 43p is spent on each eal at the hospital and that young patients are given options like Turkey Twizzlers, chicken nuggets, sausage rolls, fish fingers, pizzas and pasties. The only vegetable options are garden peas or sweetcorn, although children can have potato smiles or waffles.

Nutritionists and healthy eating experts were appalled by the revelations. Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health regional manager Sally Young said:

'Jamie Oliver has given a bit of a kick to the school meals service to make sure it is roviding good, healthy meals and we would welcome any measures to do the same for hospital patients.' She added: 'When We have done research there have been huge concerns over children's health and obesity problems. Patients do want to be given a choice while in hospital, but they want it to be a healthy choice.' A statement from Newcastle Hospitals trust said: 'It is misleading to identify individual meal costs as the choice varies given the differences in cost for the breakfasts, snacks etc.

'The children's wards all receive extras on a daily basis. This can sometimes be as little as extra ice cream or ice lollies to cold buffets for birthdays. The department endeavours at all times to ensure that patients' requests are met even on an individual basis for patients with special needs.'