Eastern Health is defending a decision to stop routinely serving night-time snacks at two of its hospitals in St. John's.

Newfoundland and Labrador's largest health authority stopped delivering bedtime snacks last October in order to save money.

Patients can still get something to eat or drink after hours, but now they have to ask for it.

Eastern health cafeteria worker

Eastern Health changed its policy on serving bedtime snacks in October. (CBC)

George Butt, vice-president of Corporate Services. said eliminating the nightly snack trolley brings Eastern Health in line with other hospitals across the country. 

"These patients are on our wards, our nursing staff are with them. I think they would be attuned to their needs, and if they thought there was something that the patient wanted or needed, I think they'd be astute enough to know that, and to suggest to the patient that if they wanted a lunch or a cup of tea or a snack or a glass of milk, that that's available to them," said Butt. 

Butt said the $97,000 savings are not food costs, but labour costs.

Meanwhile, a woman who was admitted to the Health Sciences Centre last month said the cost-cutting measure had an impact on her health. 

Catherine Blake, who is diabetic, said she went hungry and her sugar levels dropped.. 

Catherine Blake

Catherine Blake, who is diabetic, says not having bedtime snacks during a recent hospital stay had an impact on her health. (CBC)

"One evening the kitchen staff mislabelled my supper, so my supper went to the woman across the way. So when the nurses called down to the kitchen, they said there was no more food available." 

"At 2 a.m. I woke up with a sugar of 1.7, and that had to be addressed. It really did throw my sugars off, because the next morning I also had a low sugar," Blake said.

Eastern Health said the $97,000 saving is part of $43 million that has to be saved across its fiscal board.