The Association was deeply saddened to hear about the death of Mike Duckett MBE, one of our most passionate members. He was 77.
During his career, Mike campaigned tirelessly for better hospital food, arguing that it was a form of medicine. His passion for this form of patient care arose after embarking on a catering services management path and taking up his first position within NHS catering at the Brompton Sanitorium. It was there that his love for using fresh produce grew, thanks to the array of organic produce grown on site.
Mike did move away from healthcare catering for a period of time but his passion for better hospital food saw him return to hospital catering, firstly at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, then at King’s College Hospital in London and finally at the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust where he was catering services manager until his retirement in 2012.
It was while in this NHS role that Mike became heavily involved with campaigning for the use of local, fresh ingredients to provide patients with better hospital food that would improve patient care. In 2005 he was involved with the Hospital Food Project, which looked to increase the amount of local, seasonal and organic food used in patient meals, and he was also involved with the Good Food on the Public Plate initiative, in conjunction with Sustain and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which worked with hospitals, schools and care homes to increase the amount of sustainable food being served across the cost sector.
Duckett’s enthusiasm for fresh produce saw him turn away from ordering supplies from NHS Supply Chain and purchase from local farmers, a move that attracted a lot of attention, including from Prince Charles, who referred to Mike as “a brilliant head of catering”. He was rewarded for his services to the NHS with an MBE in 2009 and the BBC’s Food & Farming Award in 2012.
On hearing about Mike’s death, HCA National Chairman, Craig Smith, said, “The whole of the hospital catering community will be stunned to hear the news of Mike’s passing. The very first HCA meeting I attended was at Mike’s hospital and that was more than 40 years ago. His passion for providing patients with the best ingredients available became legendary and since his retirement his enthusiasm remained undimmed. He would constantly be questioning and holding people to account, calling for the reduction of the current reliance on prepared meals. During the recent Hospital Food Review he made sure that his comments were heard at the highest level. His contribution to our debates will be sorely missed and the Association’s condolences go out to Mike’s partner and family.”