The professional hospital caterer moves with the times and the Association is here to ensure that the most up to date information is available. The Hospital Caterer, the official journal of the Hospital Caterers Association is published six times each year. To download or view the latest edition online click one of the button to the right.

A range of other relevant publications are available below. Click on the section to download a PDF version.

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HCA Service Guides

Healthcare Food and Beverage Service Standards – A Good Practice Guide to Ward Level Service

The Good Practice Guide provides a framework for nurses and other healthcare practitioners at all levels. It has the potential to really make a difference to the nutritional status of people when they are in hospital and has received endorsements for the following organisations click here.

Scope of the Guide

The Good Practice Guide sets out the standards that, patients, and their carers, have a right to expect from catering services in the NHS.

Good food, and the support to eat it, is considered to be an integral part of a patient’s care plan, giving them the nutrients they need to support a rapid recovery from surgery or illness. Ensuring that Food is the Best Form of Medicine and Food First Approach at all times.

The Francis Reports highlighted that nutrition and hydration are basics requirements and, as such, must form a KEY and ESSENTIAL part of the patient’s stay and recovery.

This document is designed as a ‘how to’ manual for delivering excellence in food and beverage service to patients. It promotes outstanding service from the point at which food and beverages arrive at the service area to when the meal or refreshment service is concluded.

It is aimed at all those people with responsibility for providing a food service to patients including:

  • Clinical Modern Matrons
  • Ward Sisters
  • Ward Housekeepers
  • Ward Managers
  • Ward Hostesses
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Dietitians
  • Caterers
  • Porters
  • Day Centre Managers
  • Speech & Language Therapists
  • Domestic Services

Additional copies can be purchased by downloading and completing the order form, using the button below, and either emailing to hca@lansdownepublishing.com or faxing back to Lansdowne Publishing on 0161 872 6665.

HCA Service Guides

Retail and Commercial Service Standards – An operational guide to services

Sets out the how and tools to run a successful retail offer in the NHS, it covers the importance of offering a balanced menu to ensure staff and visitors are well nourished and hydrated.

Additional copies can be purchased by completing the following order form and faxing back to Lansdowne Publishing on 0161 872 6665.


NHS England National standards for healthcare food and drink

Every healthcare organisation has a responsibility to provide the highest level of care possible for their patients, staff and visitors. This includes the quality, nutritional value and the sustainable aspects of the food and drink that is served, as well as the overall experience and environment in which it is eaten.


All Wales Nutrition and Catering Standards for Food and Fluid Provision for Hospital Inpatients

Hospital food is an essential part of inpatient care. Appetising food will encourage patients to eat well, and must contain the nutrients they need to recover from surgery or illness. Catering staff, dietitians, clinical staff, porters, nurses, speech and language therapists, healthcare support workers and other staff who contribute to the provision of food and fluid to hospital patients, all have an important role to play in the co-ordinated approach necessary to provide patients with a first class food service.


Care Quality Commission (CQC) – Essential Standards of Quality and Safety

Care Quality Commission Guidance about compliance. What providers should do to comply with the section 20 regulations of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Regulation 14: Meeting nutritional and hydration needs

The intention of this regulation is to make sure that people who use services have adequate nutrition and hydration to sustain life and good health and reduce the risks of malnutrition and dehydration while they receive care and treatment.

See more


Council of Europe Resolution Food and Nutritional Care in Hospitals (10 key characteristics)

The Council of Europe Resolution contains the 10 key characteristics of good nutritional care in hospitals.


Food in Hospitals – National Catering and Nutrition Specification for Food and Fluid Provision in Hospitals in Scotland

Eating well and enjoying food is fundamentally important for every individual’s health and wellbeing. In a hospital setting appealing food and good nutrition is more than this, here it is vitally important.

This Food in Hospitals Specification 2008 has been revised and updated to support Scottish NHS Boards in implementing:

  • the Healthcare Improvement Scotland Food, Fluid and Nutritional Care Standards specifically Standards 3, 4 and 53 ; and
  • the delivery of a healthy balanced diet for patients who are considered to be ‘nutritionally well’.


Hospital Food and Drink Strategy (DoH) – Food and Drink in NHS Hospitals – England

An independent group established by the Department of Health and led by Dianne Jeffrey, Chairman of Age UK., on which the HCA took a major role in developing the outcomes of the plan.

Every hospital has a responsibility to provide the highest level of care possible for their patients and this, without question, includes the quality and nutritional value of the food that is served and eaten.

Toolkit to support the Food and Drink Strategy

A hospital Food and Drink toolkit to support the development of a hospital food and drink strategy. For further information, please see the following link



Guide to the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative by Premier Foods

Welcome to the next step in our journey of assisting caterers to provide creative, tasty and inspirational recipe solutions for dysphagia sufferers that will ensure dignity in dining. In this latest guide, we aim to outline the new international dysphagia guidelines, and provide tips and advice for caterers as the industry begins to adopt the new framework.


Nursing Care Standards for Patient Food in Hospital – Northern Ireland

Nutrition and the meal experience are of vital importance to the patient in hospital. Not only is food necessary for life and represents a basic human right, but it is also a source of great pleasure, with important social, cultural, and religious functions all of which need consideration within a hospital setting.


Standards for food, fluid and nutritional care – Scotland

Food, fluid and nutrition are fundamental to health and wellbeing, and therefore fundamental to quality and safety in healthcare.

These standards replace the previous 'Clinical Standards for Food, Fluid and Nutritional Care in hospitals' published by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland in 2003.

This document specifies a minimum set of performance criteria for food, fluid and nutritional care. The standards apply to the care of all patients, paediatric and adult, in both community health care and hospital care in Scotland, whether directly provided by an NHS board or secured on behalf of an NHS board.

These standards can be used to reinforce national consistency and drive improvement in food, fluid and nutritional care across Scotland.

Click here to see more.


The Nutrition and Hydration Digest, 2nd Edition

The BDA Food Services Specialist Group are delighted to present the second edition of the Nutrition and Hydration Digest – updated for 2019. This significantly revised and updated document builds on the success of the first digest document and will replace it as one of the five key documents forming national hospital food standards in England, with impact on standards across the UK.


Allergen Toolkit for Healthcare Catering

The Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and The Association of UK Dietitians (BDA), through its Food Counts! specialist group, have worked together to produce this toolkit that addresses food allergies/intolerances within healthcare catering settings.


Care Solutions Guide

A good practical guide which many healthcare caterers may find of use within their hospitals/hospices.


Commissioning Excellent Nutrition and Hydration 2015–2018

The HCA has been part of a National Strategic Advisory Group that includes representatives from the National Association of Care Caterers, Age UK and the British Dietetic Association. This group has created new guidance launched by NHS England on 'commissioning excellent nutrition and hydration'.

The document outlines why commissioners should make nutrition and hydration a priority; how to tackle the problems; how to assess the impact of commissioned services; how commissioners have begun to tackle the problems; and further resources to help commissioners address the issue.


Listeriosis Information for Hospital Caterers During Covid-19 Pandemic

During these challenging times for hospital caterers right now and with the current demand on our services, combined with the effects of the pandemic, this may present increased risks to food safety, particularly as the outbreak progresses.

STS Food Safety have put together some useful tips to help you make sure that we can continue to protect our vulnerable customers from Listeriosis during this time.


Dementia assessment and improvement framework

The dementia assessment and improvement framework supports organisational leaders in NHS provider organisations – for example, senior sisters/charge nurses, consultants and allied health professionals (AHPs) – to provide ‘outstanding’ care for people living with dementia during their stay in an acute, community or mental health setting.


Dysphagia Diet Food Texture Descriptors

Dysphagia Diet Food Descriptors which have been endorsed by all the relevant groups of the working party are now available and are recommended to be adopted for use by all to reduce the incidents of confusion.


HCA Guide to Crohn’s Disease and Menu Idea

A Guide to Crohn's Disease and menu ideas has been produced by the HCA in partnership with For Crohns, a copy of which can be downloaded by clicking the link below.


HCA Sample Protected Mealtimes Policy

This sample policy can only ever be a starting point for Trusts and Health Boards. As each healthcare environment is different, this policy would require tailoring to meet the needs of the patient/client group and achieve local ownership.


Hospital Catering Solutions Guide

A good practical guide which has been specially developed for caters working within hospitals/hospices. Offers tailored insights, recipes and product solutions for your menus.


James Martin – Hospital Blueprint

After working with the catering teams in a number of hospitals James Martins Series Operation Hospital Food, James began to realise that although no two hospitals – or the challenges they face – are the same, there is still a core set of factors which most will typically have in common. So along with the Hospital Caterers Association and many different organisation and individuals he created ‘A Blueprint – for ALL Hospital Caterers to use.

The link below takes you to the website which contains – Menus, Recipes, Restaurant ideas etc




Nutrition Toolkit for Healthcare Catering – Allergen Labelling

Endorsed by the British Dietetic Association, (BDA Food Services Specialist Group) these Guidelines are a simple and straightforward document that provide clarity around the many demands of food labelling.

The toolkit as simple steps that must be taken in order to comply with the nutrition labelling requirements set out in Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of Food Information to Consumers (EU FIC), due to come into force on the 13th December 2016.


Preventing Waste in the Healthcare sector

WRAP and HCA are pleased to announce that we have completed Webcasts that you should use with your teams as a training tool and to generate ideas/debate on how you can reduce WASTE.


Menu planning for preventing food waste

Produced by WRAP, the menu planning webcast assists you in reducing the impact of waste, which we are all aware is a key focus for us all. This builds upon the work we did jointly did with WRAP with the screencasts which offer a step-by-step guide enabling hospital caterers to reduce food and associated packaging waste and to recycle more.

This webcast series:

  • gives an overview of waste in the healthcare sector;
  • identifies food waste prevention opportunities;
  • provides advice to help healthcare facilities prevent food waste and realise the associated cost savings; and
  • introduces WRAP’s business support including tools and guidance available under WRAP’s Hospitality and Food Service


Simply Puree IDDSI Challenge

A presentation by Simply Puree about the IDDSI challenge.


Better Hospital Food Plan (2000)

To access the Better Hospital Food information you have to be a Full member of the HCA (Click here to see membership options)

The Better Hospital Food programme is no longer used in the NHS as it was replaced by each of the 4 nations own Food and Drink strategies however some elements are used still within some hospitals.

The Better Hospital Food programme was introduced to ensure the consistent delivery of high quality food and food services to patients.

It contained various information best practice guidance, resources and background information to support the delivery of food in NHS healthcare facilities.


The National Dish Selector contains over 300 recipes developed by a team of leading chefs for use in healthcare facilities.

Sections on Better Hospital Food initiatives comprise:

  • Flexi Menu pilot, providing patients with a greater choice of meals;
  • Protected Mealtimes, guaranteeing patients un-disturbed meals;
  • 24-hour Catering, providing food any time of the day or night;
  • Sustainability, reducing environmental impact of food production;
  • Nutrition, a key issues for caterers and dieticians.

The Better Hospital Food section of the website contains:

  • National Recipe Data Base
  • Flexi Menu
  • Protected Meal Time
  • 24 hours’ service
  • Sustainability
  • Nutrition
  • Resources
  • Archive

NOTE – Some of the links and information within the Better Hospital Food area have been superseded, replaced or are no longer applicable, as such the HCA does not take any responsibility for the links or information contained in the Better Hospital Food area.


Compliance with hospital food standards in the NHS

Two years on: a review of progress since the Hospital Food Standards Panel report in 2014


Food Standards & Strategy Inaugural Meeting Notes

17th and 30th July 2018
Broadmoor Hospital, Learning & Development Centre, Crowthorne, Berkshire


Investigation into an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections associated with hospital-provided pre-prepared sandwiches, UK May to July 2019

On 7 May 2019, local investigations were intensified in North West England after two patients contracted listeriosis in the same hospital and subsequently died.


The Hospital Food Standards Panel’s report on standards for food and drink in NHS hospitals

An independent group established by the Department of Health and led by Dianne Jeffrey, chairman of Age UK 

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