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First Choice UK hosts ‘Inspiring 24/7 catering for the NHS’ event

8th Mar 2023 - 06:00
More than 50 NHS catering managers and suppliers gathered to get inspiration and explore option for the provision of 24/7 catering.

The event, which was held at First Choice’s Cannock head office and development kitchens, attracted catering managers from NHS Hospital Trusts in Kings Lynn, Sheffield, Oswestry and Milton Keynes, as well as senior staff from contractors ISS, Aramark, Medirest and Sodexo, which all hold significant hospital catering contracts.

Tim Radcliffe, net zero food programme manager with NHS England provided an introduction to the day, along with Martin Dagnell of First Choice and Ben Ross from equipment supplier Unox. Attendees were split into ten groups, each of which was given a 20-minute presentation from each supplier through the day.

The groups re-joined to hear a presentation from Stewart Nimmo, catering manager at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, where he has introduced 24/7 dining in one of the restaurants.

He explained the barriers that had to be overcome, what motivated the Trust to try the idea and how it had become financially viable enough that once the trial period was over it was made a permanent arrangement.

Phil Shelley, senior operational & policy manager with NHS England, highlighted the key points of the day in a round-up, before a final, optional hour began that offered a chance for attendees to have further conversations, arrange meetings and sign-up for free samples from suppliers.

The suppliers covered vending, ready meals and ordering apps and included Scanbox UK, The Field Doctor, FSG Eco Packaging, Unox UK, Brakes, RSL Refreshment Systems, Kitchen Prep UK, Civica, Nisbets and Yum Chop.

Radcliffe said: “This was a closely targeted event and everyone who joined us came with a certain mindset and that allowed some proper conversations to take place with suppliers, who got to see everyone. FSG provided the 377 cups that were used on the day, which represented a 96% carbon saving compared to us using single-use disposable cups.”

He added special thanks to First Choice, the venue host, Simonelli Coffee, which provided free coffee for all throughout, and FSG, which gave the event recyclable cups to serve it.

Written by
Edward Waddell