Feedback from HCA Conference 2014

We took a number of vox-pops at the 2014 HCA Conference and Exhibition at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole (10-11 April), inviting you to tell us what you thought of this year’s event. Thank you all for your comments. Your feedback is important to the on-going success of the HCA National Conference.

And here is what you said...

"I’ve worked in the NHS for a number of years and been aware of the HCA and elements of what they do for some time as my Manager, Chris Lay is involved. Also I’ve been to a Salon Culinaire. I think it [being a Member] would be useful to me which is why I’ve come along today – to see what it’s all about. I didn’t know what to expect – it was interesting listening to the Speakers rather than caterers because working as a chef in the kitchen I deal mainly with caterers all day every day, rather than those involved on the administrative/clinical side of things. We have our own set of problems and issues to deal with and we don’t always understand the medical side of things and their needs. I think there would definitely be a benefit in bringing together those working on the clinical side of things and everyone else involved in patient feeding within the HCA."

Iain Robertson, Head Chef, St Ann’s Hospital, Poole (part of Dorset Healthcare Trust)

"I’ve had the opportunity to join the HCA in the past but it’s just been a cost thing – got married, kids … But it would be useful to be a Member – it’s a good organisation. When I first started it was more for Catering Managers; maybe in the last 10-15 years it’s become more open to those working on the shop floor level and I think it’s an excellent thing. We can only benefit from that. Last year I nearly joined, this year I may … This is actually the second time I’ve come to Conference – it’s been excellent. It’s an eye opener for those who don’t get a chance to see how the other parts of the hospital works – get to meet and speak to people. It’s good on all levels."

Stephen Crouch, Head Chef, Stafford General Hospital

"I’ve just come to see what it’s all about as I don’t know anything about the HCA. I’ve found it really useful, walking around the Exhibition and seeing all the different products. I’ve not been in to the Conference Sessions – I don’t think we’re meant to go in?" [Judy told her she was welcome to go in.]

Kay Moseley, Chef, Stafford General Hospital

"I’m new to hospital catering and only joined Burnley recently. I’m a Chef by trade and have done chef managing [she has worked for Sodexo in the past] so I applied and got the job. The Speakers I’ve heard [Carol Dight, Director of Nursing, Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust and Liz Jones, Head of Patient Environment, Department of Health] have been brilliant and I’ve picked up a lot of ideas – things I can convey back to my staff as to why we play such an important part, and it was nice to hear that they realise that the catering staff are often looked upon as the bottom level and are not given the respect that they should be given. I get the bit about food waste because it is appalling – there has to be a better system for getting the food out there [i.e. on to the ward]. Being an outsider coming into the NHS with a fresh pair of eyes I was shocked at the amount of waste there is and thought – ‘you should never get away with that’."

I’ve found Conference really interesting – we were given the paperwork for joining the HCA on the proviso that we should come down today to see what it’s like and after what I’ve seen I shall probably be joining. It’s just a pity we’re only here for one day because there are a few Speakers tomorrow I’d have liked to hear – Matt Dawson [Sodexo Ambassador] and Jay Rayner."

Wendy Harding, Catering Manager, Burnley General

"Ewan Dyda [Facilities Manager, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust] is a Member of the HCA and he invited me to come with him. I’m really enjoying it – I’ve never been to anything like this before. I think [becoming a Member] could be really useful to me in my job. It’s quite interesting seeing all these different people."

Janet Brown, Food Production Manager, Royal Blackburn Hospital

"I am a Member of the London and South East Branch. It’s not my first Conference but I came today because I got the free ticket which is excellent as I still want to keep up with everything. I think it’s important to come – it helps to give you a boost when everything gets ‘samey’."

Linda Griffiths, Assistant Facilities Manager – Catering, East Sussex Healthcare Trust

"I’ve never been to an HCA Conference before. My Supervisor (Jenny Chaplin) brought me here. I don’t tend to be too involved with the patient meals. I’m based in the restaurant serving mostly visitors and staff although we do get a few patients coming in. We do some patient dietary meals in our dietary kitchen but the cook chill meals (served to patients) aren’t really anything to do with me. We don’t use electronic menus in our hospital (which one of the Speakers had talked about) but I found that really interesting. I’ve picked up quite a few tips."

Kerri Main, Cook, Weston General Hospital

"I’ve heard of the HCA but never been [involved] before. Our Manager (Trevor Chacksfield, HCA South West Branch Committee Member) brought us here. It’s very good, we’re really enjoying it. The talks today have been really interesting – we’ve picked up quite a few things we may not otherwise have known about to do with patient feeding. I think anyone who works in NHS catering – whether you’re a supervisor, manager, or kitchen-based - would benefit from joining the HCA because we are the ones feeding the patients."

Jenny Chaplin, Senior Catering Supervisor, Weston General Hospital

"I didn’t know anything about the HCA until Emma Wilson (Head of Catering, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals) spoke to me about it and asked if I wanted to come to Conference.

I’ve been out of the country for a number of years – for the last five years working in healthcare catering in New Zealand – and returned last summer, moving to my current position in January. It’s been fantastic, the speeches brilliant – I’ve taken loads of notes to discuss with my colleagues about steps to take towards sustainability. I’m starting to write a new menu so hearing about nutrition and the part it plays in what we do is something I need to work towards. I’ve been invited to attend the next HCA Yorkshire Branch Meeting so I’ll take it [i.e. whether to join the HCA] from there. I never realised it was such a large organisation."

Gary Griffin Chappel, Food Production Manager, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHSFT

"It’s given me an opportunity to look at what innovations are out there, what new products we should be looking at and whether we’ve got the solutions to existing problems or whether there’s something else we should be looking at. Also to get some great contacts and some good networking with people we don’t see on a day to day basis and to see what some of our competitors are doing. It’s been really useful. It would be useful to join the HCA because we deal with a number of things in common – for example we’re looking at getting the Soil Association’s Catering Food Mark across all our facilities – so we are an important provider of food to both patients and staff in the healthcare environment."

Tom Barter, Head of Retail and Food Services, ISS Healthcare Education and Defence


"We already deal with lots of NHS facilities in Northern Ireland and we have certain hospitals in the UK and Michael Henderson (Zenith Hygiene Sales Manager Ireland) brought me over to see what goes on at Conference. From a corporate point of view and being a supplier into the NHS it’s nice to see that the conversations we (i.e. the public) all have around a pint actually happen at Conference as well. Meaning … as tax payers we all moan about hospital food, saying it’s not being done the right way and no-one ever speaks about it, because we never see the way tax payers’ money is being spoken about and at length at events like this. I wish we’d got in earlier, we’d have paid for a space [in the exhibition], but we definitely will do so next year."

Warren Edmondson, Head of Public Sector, Zenith Hygiene Group [he attended as a Delegate]

"We’re an independent charity, we have one site and we joined the London and South East Branch of the HCA last year so this is our first Conference. It’s fantastic. Matt Dawson was brilliant, inspirational and although we’re not NHS, 95 per cent of our work is NHS referrals (replacement hips, knees, etc). It’s just good to be amongst like minded people and to enjoy and share the passion to make food better. Brilliant, excellent…"

Guy Heasman, Hotel Services Manager, Horder Healthcare

"I must have been to about 20 HCA Conferences in all. This is one of the best I’ve been to, but that seems to be the case every year. The sessions have been very good and what I particularly liked was the way you are trying to encourage new people to join without forcing them by inviting them to come and enjoy Conference. And I think that what they [the Visitors] saw yesterday will encourage them to join."

David Lawrence, Support Service Manager (retired), formerly of Hallam Street Hospital, West Bromwich

"This is one of many Conferences I’ve attended. It’s local so that’s very handy! It’s been a good Conference, very entertaining and educational. I think the Speakers have all been very good, Matt Dawson, in particular was excellent and the content of his presentation was very good – and also Ann Donelan. But all of them have each given something to us.

A slight negative – we were sitting at the back and we found we couldn’t read the bottom lines of the Power Point presentations on screen (they were a bit low) and we were having to push ourselves up to see on occasions – so in future maybe the screen could be elevated? And also some of the wording was a bit small."

Ann O’Brien, Catering Manager, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust

"This is my third time at Conference and I just wish all our catering staff could have access to what we have here because you learn so much. Obviously we can cascade what we learn when we go back but for them to come down would be amazing for them to experience this."

Diane Gibson, Deputy Catering Manager, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHSFT

"It’s always good to come down to these events to benchmark where we’re at at any one time. There’s a lot of things discussed at Conference where we [at Newcastle Hospitals] know we’re ahead in our performance – not so much because we’re brilliant caterers but because we have a brilliant Executive team. At Newcastle Hospitals we have all the buy-in from Governance – from our head of nursing and from our CEO – and one of the things that frustrates me a bit about the HCA Conference is that we bang on about the need to involve this Department or that organisation. But to me the two main groups we need buy-in from are the Chief Executives and Director of Finance – there’s no mention of these groups and that frustrates the hell out of me. They are the ones that can have a major influence on Patient Feeding.

In Newcastle Hospitals we have a brilliant Chef Executive and a brilliant Director of Finance who believe that in-house [catering] is the best way to go and that what we deliver is great, and they actually validate that, and we also have validation from our Governance – they play a huge part in what we do. But there’s no mention of Governance here. We all want change and as a group the HCA should get the Chef Execs and Finance Directors involved through their national associations. Get them to Conference. We need to involve the people that are real hitters, those that hold the purse strings and that way we’ll see results."

Wayne Reed, Catering Services Manager, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHSFT

"I’ve been to many Conferences and this has been very good, although I thought it was a bit slow to warm up yesterday. But we’re starting to get the message across and new people are coming on board. In Wales we’re a bit ahead of the game on food standards – we’ve got our own now, with our own recipes and they’re all available through the Welsh framework. The way forward is getting the voice heard, and the HCA is already doing that – the fact that people like James Martin are coming to us is really putting us on the map. We need to grab that and take it further. In terms of the Speakers, Matt Dawson was excellent and I also liked the ‘squaddie’ [Warrant Officer 1st Class Tony Jacka]. The hotel has been fine, very good indeed."

Anthony Lewis, Catering Manager, Cwm Taf University Health Board

"I’ve been coming to Conference for many years and this year has been very good, very beneficial. The presentations on both days have been absolutely excellent and the Supplier stands have been fantastic. The main message that’s stood out for me is that it’s all about growth; it’s about doing things together – the four nations coming together. I think we’ve been too singular in the past and we need to start working together more closely because we’re all doing good things but we fail to share and we fail to communicate. So the sooner we start to do that the better."

David Bedwell, Assistant Director - Facilities Services, Health Facilities Scotland

"It’s been very good this year. It’s on one site again and it’s good having the Exhibition only a short distance from the Conference Hall. I think the layout of the Exhibition is much better [than last year] - you need this sort of space to be able to circulate properly. I certainly think that what we started in Reading [Conference 2013] with free tickets for Day 1 Delegates to attend the Exhibition has made a big difference but I do wonder if there’s some other promotion that could be done for Day 2 to encourage others – new Members, or even more day Delegates - to attend that can’t come for the full event. I don’t think day tickets should be limited to just one specific day of Conference and there should be a choice of which days to attend. Even offering a one day ticket at a much reduced rate could be an option… The movers and shakers and the decision makers are here on budgets, like me, but the younger people and those at a lower level who work very hard operationally don’t get a chance.

What the South West did yesterday in bringing a coach of 50 visitors was very good and the other Branches should be doing the same thing. For people to hear Matt Dawson, or the inspired speech from Carol Dight, or the very strong speech from the gentleman from the forces – it’s a catalyst that has to be captured. The passion that we’re about needs to be diluted and bottled and put down the Governments’ throat – to make them put themselves in the position of those who have suffered like the ‘Little Sparrow’ Carol talked about. This is happening too frequently. The people at the top can make the difference but the operational teams at the bottom have to deliver."

William McCartney, Head of Catering Services, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

"I’ve really enjoyed Conference. It’s lovely to see some familiar faces and new faces as well. I brought a couple of chefs down with me as visitors to have a look round and they were absolutely thrilled and both said they’re going to become Members so I’m absolutely chuffed to bits about that. The speeches have been really good – Matt Dawson was really entertaining; Andy Jones was absolutely brilliant with his points of view. The whole experience has been very good.

We’re hoping to host Conference 2016 in Liverpool so now we’re starting to look at Conference with completely different eyes. Janice [Gillan] is doing a brilliant job with advertising next year’s event in Glasgow – we’ll be doing that next year as I think that’s so important – to get the momentum going right from the start."

Amanda Cartmill, Facilities Manager, Mid Cheshire Foundation Trust

"I went round with the President to judge the Stands for the Best Stand award and almost to a man everybody said how good Day One was with the influx of the day Delegates [visitors] and I think that’s something we should consider again for next year. It’s been very good, great having all the stands in one room – again, none of the Exhibitors commented about being in the wrong place or not seeing anyone – and the content of the actual Conference has been excellent as well."

Martin Cantor, Assistant National Secretary, HCA

"Very good, very interesting. The Conference Committee has done an excellent job again. A little bit let down by the hotel – state of the rooms, size of the rooms - but the Exhibition has been excellent and the overall content of Conference has been very good. I liked Matt Dawson. The main message I’ll take away from it is that we have to do more on the wards – educating the ward based staff who deliver the food."

David Wismann, Assistant Catering Manager, Cardiff and Vale LHB NHS Trust

"I’m a Member of the London and South East Branch who have sponsored me to the whole Conference. Previously I’ve only managed to come for one of the days. Day One in particular was very useful, more hospital focused, Day Two is livelier. It’s the interaction I like and I like to see new products in the Exhibition and then I take the information back to our catering colleagues. It’s collaboration that makes a difference – everyone [i.e. dietitians, nurses, caterers] does their own thing in best practice – but it’s the act of getting them together and working towards a common goal - the patients - which is important and I think the HCA is doing this – that’s why I’m a Member. With Andy Jones on board it can’t go wrong."

Sadaf Saied, Head of Dietetics, G45 Integrated Services

"It’s about eight years since I last attended Conference as I cover a wider Facilities brief and not catering on a day to day basis, but I wanted to come to get up to date with what’s going on. It’s been really good, especially networking with people – Delegates and Exhibitors. Compared with the last Conference I attended, there seems to be much more passion in terms of the leadership of the HCA and what they’re expecting of Members – it seems much more about empowering them as Caterers and not just relying on the Government and politicians."

Chris Davies, Head of Facilities, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust

"It’s been really informative, really enjoyable. The Speakers have been very inspiring. The main thing I’ll take out of this Conference was the chance to bring Guests along with us on the first day. I brought two chefs with me from our hospitals who are entering the Salon Culinaire at Hotelympia in May just to give them a bit of a flavour of what the HCA is all about - to introduce them to people, network, and that went really well. It gave them the opportunity to see what potential they could have in their careers for the future. Hopefully it’s given them something to take back into their work places and help improve service and the good jobs we’re already doing. I think they would grasp the opportunity to join the HCA if Membership was opened up to chefs. With regard to Conference, it’s good that we’ve had a lot of votes on what a good job we’re all doing and it’s nice to see Andy Jones and other people still working with us, still taking things forward and still trying to promote what a good service all the hospitals are providing. It feels as if we’re all in it together, we’re all working on the same projects and with things like Nutrition and Hydration week where we all link up – what a bright future we’ve got."

Craig Holland, Catering Manager, Birmingham Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust

"Usually we exhibit but because of all the work we’ve got on at the moment it wasn’t feasible so I’m here as a Delegate. It’s been really interesting because usually I’m sitting on our stand and I miss most of the presentations. But by going in to the Conference I’ve been very impressed with the content and the commitment and the dedication shown by everyone. I think during the Sessions Exhibitors should make a point of going in to the hall and listening to a few - rather than just sitting on their stands. Some of the Sessions can motivate you in any type of job. It’s not just about caterers and catering. You can get a double benefit from Exhibiting and experiencing what’s going on in the Conference hall. Certainly I’ve found it very refreshing and I’ve quite enjoyed it. We will be exhibiting at Glasgow."

Neil Rush, Managing Director, STS Solutions

In a letter to Audrey and Adrian at Lansdowne Publishing, Carol Tarren, Head of Facilities - Satellite Properties, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, wrote: Paul and I would like to thank you both and your team for the excellent Conference, it was - as usual - well organised and ran like clockwork. We both appreciate how much hard work goes on behind the scenes and that the two days don’t just happen. We look forward to Glasgow 2015.



"We’ve done very well. It’s Euro Food Brands first time at an HCA Conference and it’s been very successful. A lot of positive leads and we’ll probably have listings in a lot more places because of it. I’d imagine we’ll be back next year."

Shaun Carrier, Euro Food Brands

"Very good, some very positive leads and high volume ones as well, and we’ve been touching base with existing customers. This is my third HCA Conference, it’s better than last year and we’ll be in Glasgow next year."

Tim Strutt, Area Sales Manager, ETI

"It’s been really good and a really nice and friendly atmosphere. It’s my first time here [though not the company’s]. We’ve had lots of people coming up to get a coffee and quite a few good quality leads. It’s probably not been quite as busy as I’d expected. We’re starting to see the same people year on year and that’s helping to build really good relationships with them and that’s really worthwhile. And because of the network of HCA Branches we can start to talk to people on a regional basis and get to know them even better. So that’s been really useful."

Martyn Bell, Marketing Director, Douwe Egberts

"It’s very similar to last year - the same people, a few leads – that’s what we’ve come for. We’ve had a good time at the dinners. We’ve had pretty good footfall to the stand from the Delegates It’s a good show for us and most definitely we’ll be back next year."

Mark Gallant, New Business Executive, Country Choice

"This is my first time at an HCA Conference – it’s been fantastic, absolutely brilliant, very well organised and professionally done. It’s been well worth coming because the people we are seeing are the right people – the decision makers – and we’ve had some good very leads. We’ve just been taken over by Capita so it’s down to them as to whether we can exhibit next year, but if I have my way we’ll be there."

Steve Torne, Sales Executive, Executive Liberty Services

"This is my first time at an HCA Conference and it’s probably been better than some of the others we do. We’ve been looked after really well and the rooms are superb. Yesterday (Day 1) we picked up 41 leads and so far today we’ve had about 10. It’s well attended and that’s what you want when you’re spending the sort of money that we’re spending. It’s been a real big success for us. Regarding Conference 2015, if I can have the same stand and he [Richard] writes to me early enough I’ll put it in the budget."

David Ledger, Business Development Manager, Handmade Speciality Products

"It’s my first HCA Conference and it’s been very good, very productive. These are the people that are actually using our product on the ground, so we’re talking to the right people. We’ll be back next year."

Paul Shaw, Sales Director, Refreshment Systems

"I’ve found the Exhibition much better than last year. The footfall has been higher and I think that’s due to the additional [visitor] places. I think the quality matches the quantity – everyone that’s coming through is a quality lead and we’ve had some very good incremental business opportunities. Back next year? Absolutely. Please let us know when the stand space details are coming out – I know everyone in this row (of the Exhibition) wants to pre-book for next year."

Mark Taylor, Foodservice Channel Controller, Premier Foods

"It’s been very good this year. I thought the opening address yesterday was good and the fact that the Conference Presenter was encouraging Delegates to visit the stands – it’s good to hear that as a Supplier. The numbers have been excellent and I thought the idea of bringing the bus from the South West with Visitors was a great idea."

Gary Allitt, Area Sales Manager, Williams Refrigeration

"Last year was our first HCA Conference and this year, overall, has been a very good event for us, a very worthwhile few days. We got a few potential leads for new business and we’ve bumped in to a few people we already supply, so we’ve been able to cement those relationships. It’s also been useful talking to the other Exhibitors as there are services we can provide for each other so that’s been good for us too."

Lee Hutchinson, Sales Office Manager, British Premium Meats

"This is our third consecutive Conference and this year is much busier. We’ve had more people visiting the stand and we’ve had a lot of interest in our new spread product which we’ll be launching later this year in food service – it’s gone down a storm. A very good show for us."

Ian Lucas, Account Manager, Lotus Bakeries

"It’s been very busy; we’ve spoken to a lot of people that are interested in us, unlike at some other conferences and we’ve got lots of new leads to take forward. 3663 always attends as we do a lot of business with hospitals so it’s good to have a presence here."

Jayne Cook, Sector Development Manager, 3663

"It’s my first time here and it’s been really good – we’ve had a lot of positive feedback and seen a lot of people that we currently supply to, and it’s nice to hear from them the positives that they’ve found from using our service, as well as from people who have used our staff in the past but have had to cut back due to budget cuts but potentially will use our service again. The first person that came on our stand said we were what he was looking for as he doesn’t have agencies nearby that cater to his staff needs. He was in a position where he is desperate for staff so we put the message across to some of our branches and hopefully we’ll have helped sort him out. I think we’ll be back next year."

Robert Skelton, Recruitment Consultant, Meridian Health

"It’s been a very good Conference, much better than in previous years. The Exhibition has been really good this year, especially with having it in one room. The footfall has been brilliant. Maybe the free tickets on Day One helped. It’s been really fantastic."

Kathryn Browne, Buyer, NHS Supply Chain

"It’s been a great show – our third - very welcoming and great networking and good ‘craic’. We’ve had good footfall to our stand and some very specific enquiries on the dementia side of things and obviously hydration. We’ll definitely be back next year."

Kate Hindley, Sales Manager, Harfield Components

"It’s been a great Conference but the only negative I would say concerns the name badges – you can’t read people’s names on them without peering down on people’s chests. It would be really helpful if the lettering could be larger."

Beverley Banister, Account Manager, Harfield Components

"I’ve found Conference very beneficial, very informative. It gives us great exposure – and a great opportunity to see our customers - valuable experience. Personally it’s my first time at an HCA show and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it."

Terence Kong, Technical Manager, Kealth Foods

"We also asked our Conference Speakers how ‘the experience was for them’, and this is their feedback:
All was good. Conference had a really nice ‘feel’ to it, from the welcome at the door right through. As a Speaker I felt well looked after and it wasn’t anyone’s fault that Matt Dawson got so carried away [he ran over his time slot]. It was my few moments of worry sitting round the back as to how it could be re-scheduled as I thought folk may be wanting their coffee, but the audience was receptive and supportive to my presentation even though the Session ran well into coffee-time. But you all sorted that out. Thanks. The Exhibitors didn’t seem phased, either, by the re-timing. On reflection, I think I prefer sitting out front and then being invited on to the stage. The rehearsal was helpful and I was happy that my content wove well with other presenters.

I welcomed the offer to lay out my slides in ‘house’ style and Lesley exactly captured the spirit of my presentation. Another bouquet!

I had been to the hotel before so knew what to expect. The two evening dinners were fine – a bit meat-intensive. Lovely flowers at the Presidents’ Dinner. The Pirate evening [Branch Dinner] worked well, though I was a bit tired by then. My two young grandsons loved the ‘dressing up clothes’ I smuggled home!

Jay Rayner was an excellent investment."

Anne Donelan, Retired Dietitian and Vice Chair/PR for Food Counts

"My experience at Conference was really super. I was thoroughly looked after and made very welcome by everyone from the Conference Committee, the Lansdowne team, Lesley and the sound guys to the other Speakers and ‘new’ and ‘old’ HCA colleagues, especially Andy and Phil.

The venue was great, the food excellent and the facilities at the hotel second to none. My hotel room was super and the staff at the hotel were exceptionally helpful.

The President’s Dinner was terrific and thank you also for placing me at such a lovely table. I thought the Military Wives Choir was superb.

Well done to you all for a very successful Conference. I hope my small contribution was useful, even if I did go over time!"

Maxine Cartz, Registered Dietitian, Compass Group UK & Ireland Limited

"It’s my first time at an HCA Conference and it’s been really worthwhile. It’s been fun. The hotel’s lovely, the food’s lovely, it’s been good. For me it’s been apparent that people are really trying to keep patients at the centre of their service and I think we can have quality food and get it to the wards. The next thing we need to embark on is making sure nursing staff are on board in trying to get the patients fed. It’s really hard because they’re really busy – it’s one of the pressures on them. So we need to think about how we can work with nurses and doctors to manage the working day on the ward.

It was very enjoyable and I found it very useful. I think it would be beneficial for more dietitians and nursing staff to attend."

Dr Irene McClelland, Mealtime Enhancement Lead, South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust


"It was very enjoyabe and I found it very useful. I think it would be beneficial for more dietitians and nursing staff to attend."

"The organisation and support was fantastic, both pre and during the conference. As a Speaker, I felt thoroughly supported and this helped to calm the nerves! The technical support received regarding my presentation was extremely helpful and made trying to juggle the day job and complete additional work much easier.

I thought the conference itself was extremely well run and flowed very well. The range of speakers was great and as a ‘first timer’ made the prospect of joining the HCA a viable prospect.

The only comment I would make is regarding the seating arrangement for the dinner. I was seated at a table with no-one I knew and while that is difficult to co-ordinate I had spent some time with my fellow speakers and it may be useful to consider for next year seating the speakers together – maybe not all as a group but possibly in pairs so that they have a familiar face at dinner."

Yvonne Spencer, Facilities Management Matron, Sodexo, Central Manchester University Hospitals

"Many thanks for your assistance with the event. The gift was not needed, but fully appreciated. I hope the rest of the day went well."

Matt Dawson, Sodexo Ireland and UK ambassador for health and wellbeing, UK Celebrity Masterchef winner and former Rugby World Cup winner

"Thanks very much indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed presenting, despite my nerves, and have had some good feedback which is lovely.
I really look forward to hearing the feedback from the delegates in the wider group…

Sincere thanks."

Carol Dight, Executive Director of Nursing and Governance, Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

And finally...

Anne Shore, the HCA’s longest serving Member and now Honorary Member, and former Vice President, attended Conference 2014 as a guest of her South West Branch. She reflects on the early days of the HCA Conference and gives her views on the expansion of the criteria for membership of the Association.

"In the very early days for many, many years we weren’t allowed to have a commercial input into the annual Conference – no Exhibition, no trade Delegates at all.

I can well remember on one occasion about 30 years ago the Conference was held in Blackpool where a large cake mix company was based. They made a cake for the HCA with ‘Welcome to Blackpool’ iced on it, with a little card on the side with the company’s name on – and it had to be taken out immediately because advertising was just not allowed in those days. It was given to a children’s hospital.

Associate Membership was brought in relatively recently and it was the right thing to do because we work so closely with the trade and they are very supportive of us. You learn so much from them because things are changing all the time but they learn from us as well.

Now, the Exhibition is an integral part of Conference and it’s wonderful.

I last came to Conference when it was held in Harrogate in 2011 – my 50th National Conference when I formally stood down from office as Vice President - and at the time I said I wasn’t sure if I’d come to any more Conferences. But with my Branch [the South West Branch] hosting this year’s event, they very kindly invited me to come as a Guest. And it’s lovely – no responsibilities! I can just meet people and enjoy myself.

I think Conference this year is absolutely superb and how wonderful to have everything – the Conference Sessions, Exhibition and accommodation – all under one roof. There’s absolutely nowhere in the South West that could do this. I voted to come to Birmingham – we’re very democratic in our Branch!

But I don’t often go to Branch meetings because I think it’s right the Members shouldn’t necessarily have me there – they’re developing their own ways of doing things now.

I think the Conference Challenge this year [to have a Guest Day and encourage Branches to invite non-members to attend] is great and it’s right we should be widening the criteria for Membership.

We used to have head chefs and kitchen superintendents in the Association and in those days they were Associate Members. Now, of course, our Associate Members are the trade suppliers, the commercial representatives, so they’ll have to think of another category of Membership for the trade unless they decide to make them Corporate Members.

But it’s definitely the right way forward for the HCA, because quite often people come into the industry as chefs or train as apprentices and go on to reach senior positions within the health service so if they’ve known us all that time – great.

They bring in fresh ideas all the time."