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Welcome to the Hospital Caterers Association website.

The Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, having been founded in 1948 shortly after the NHS itself was born.

The HCA is a national organisation which represents healthcare catering managers who provide a wide range of food services for patients, visitors and staff in NHS hospitals and healthcare facilities across the UK. A substantial proportion of the HCA’s membership is also actively involved in managing a range of other non-clinical support services.

With 15 branches throughout the four nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and more than 250 hospitals represented in its membership, the HCA network is the single largest group of healthcare catering providers within the NHS and is the recognised voice of hospital catering.

Its mission is to promote, develop and improve the standards of catering in hospitals and healthcare establishments; educate and train people working in healthcare catering services and improve the professional interests and status of healthcare catering practitioners.

The Association has a number of embedded campaigns which seek greater collaboration between caterers, nurses and dietitians - its ‘Power of 3’and ‘the Last 9 Yards’ initiatives, as well as its Nutrition and Hydration 24/7, 365 and Empowering Recovery Through Food awareness campaigns, are powerful tools in the promotion of high quality patient care. The HCA believes a multi-disciplinary approach is pivotal in ensuring the patient is at the heart of hospital services. It provides training and support to members to deliver a more inclusive patient centred and safe catering service within the NHS, at the best possible price.

In recent years the HCA has been working closely with a number of public sector organisations and industry trade bodies that share similar aims and face many related challenges; working together we can not only share best practice across the public sector, but also provides a stronger voice when seeking to influence national policy.

The NHS continues to face significant challenges, as it has done throughout its history, but the HCA and its members will work hard to promote and share best practice to ensure it is best placed to respond to whatever obstacles it encounters along the way.

Every year the HCA holds its National Leadership & Development Forum and Exhibition – a calendar highlight for members. Next year’s event, ‘Embrace the Future’ will take place on the 2nd and 3rd April 2020 at the ACC Liverpool. Hit the L&D 2020 icon for more details. Branch activities take place throughout the year, including formal meetings, seminars and study days with guest speakers. These are very important in sharing best practice locally and also include supplier demonstrations, exhibitions and social events. The HCA also marks and partakes in national and international events such as Hotelympia and other cookery competitions.

When I first joined my first hospital in 1979, as an Assistant Catering Manager, I was told that if I wanted to take my career in the NHS seriously, I needed to be a member of the Hospital Caterers Association. I have never regretted that advice. HCA membership delivers many values and benefits. There are several grades of membership and a patronage scheme is also available. From caterers’ menus and ingredients, to dietitians safeguarding nutritional content, to the final ward end delivery supported via the nursing teams, through working together, we can deliver excellence to each and every patient.

Our website contains lots of information about what we as an organisation do within the sector and how we're raising the profile and professionalism of our members to drive and improve the quality of hospital catering. It has been designed for ease of use and as a resource to share information.

We welcome your input and any feedback.

National Chairman

Craig Smith

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