The importance of providing accurate information has come home to roost at one acute trust in the South East.

Most newspapers ran a story about the amount hospitals spend on food, based on data published by the NHS Information Centre.

The national media attacked 30 trusts for spending less than £5 a day per patient – hospital food is apparently exempt from the need for austerity.

The trust identified as the lowest spender was Western Sussex Hospitals Trust which, according to the Information Centre, spent just £2.57 a day, or 86p per meal, per patient.

However, on the morning after the story broke HSJ received a note from the trust explaining that the figure quoted was wrong, and that the correct figure was £8.46 per patient, per day.

A source at the trust said they were “not really sure exactly” how the error had occurred but it was “certainly not about anyone else unfairly reporting our position”.

Elsewhere in the region, an information problem of a different kind concerning information has arisen.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust has been threatened with a £375,000 fine after computer hard drives containing confidential patient information were stolen and ended up on eBay.

The 232 hard drives were taken in September 2010 while being decommissioned.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has sent the trust a notice proposing the heavy fine for possible breach of the Data Protection Act.

The trust, however, says it is simply the victim of a crime and is challenging the punishment.