Catering manager

NHS catering managers make sure our patients and staff have highly nutritious, high quality food and drink when they need it. 

"For me, though, the best part is getting that elderly lady the egg roll that she really wants or some toast for a patient who’s quite ill and just doesn’t fancy anything else."

Read Lynn's story

Working life

As a catering manager, you'll:

  • recruit, train and manage staff
  • make sure all services meet health and safety and food hygiene standards
  • plan menus to take into account nutritional standards and medical requirements, such as low fat, gluten free, vegetarian, etc
  • arrange staff rotas
  • control budgets
  • order and control stock

Who will I work with?

Most catering departments also have assistant managers and catering supervisors who are responsible for day-to-day food and drink service. They supervise catering staff to make sure that meals are prepared and served correctly and that supplies are available and carefully used.

Catering managers may spend time liaising with dietitians and dietetic assistants to plan meals for patients on special diets. They also spend time with chefs and cooks planning menus.

You'll be part of a team responsible to hotel services managers.

Entry requirements

Catering managers in the NHS have a relevant qualification, usually a degree or HND. This could be in, for example

  • hospitality management
  • hotel and catering management
  • culinary arts management

To get onto a degree or HND course you usually need 

  • two or three A levels, along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language and maths

or alternative qualifications, including

  • BTEC or HNC
  • relevant NVQ
  • access course
  • equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications

However, each institution sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check carefully.

Skills needed

Catering managers have to be
  • interested in food and drink
  • flexible and adaptable
  • able to plan ahead and prioritise
  • keen to provide good customer service
  • organised
  • able to manage people and budgets
  • able to solve problem
  • be able to communicate

Training and development

If you join the NHS as a catering manager you will be given the training you need to introduce you to the department and its systems and procedures. You are likely to have opportunities to take further qualifications which may include apprenticeships. You may also be expected to go on short courses in particular topics such as special diets.

Catering managers can become members of the Hospital Caterers Association or the Institute of Hospitality.

  • Catering staff working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. As a cook team manager, you'll typically be on AfC band 4, and with further training and experience, you could apply for posts as a catering manager at AfC bands 5 and 6.

    Catering managers in the NHS work standard hours of around 37.5 a week. They may work shifts including early starts and evenings.

    Terms and conditions will usually be different for catering managers staff working outside of the NHS.

  • With experience, catering managers can progress by being responsible for larger departments. With further experience, they may become head of a trust’s catering service.

    There may be opportunities outside the NHS.

  • If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work. Find out more about NHS values.

    Most NHS trusts advertise their vacancies on NHS Jobs. Some current vacancies are below. 

    • View Vacancy

      Catering Operations Manager

      Milton Keynes, MK15 9AB

      • Salary:

        £32000.00 a year

      • Type:

        Permanent

      • Employer:

        The Hospice of Our Lady and St John (Willen Hospice)

      • View Vacancy
    • View Vacancy

      CATERING MANAGER – MEOLS DRIVE

      Hoylake, Wirral, CH47 4AQ

      • Salary:

        £11.05 Per Hour Free DBS check, Flu vaccination an

      • Type:

        Permanent

      • Employer:

        Mental Health Care (UK) Ltd

      • View Vacancy
    • View Vacancy

      Assistant Catering Manager

      Liverpool, L9 7AL

      • Salary:

        £22549.00 to £24882.00 a year per annum

      • Type:

        Permanent

      • Employer:

        Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

      • View Vacancy
    • View Vacancy

      Catering Supervisor

      Chelmsford, CM1 7ET

      • Salary:

        £20330.00 to £21777.00 a year Per annum pro rata

      • Type:

        Permanent

      • Employer:

        Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust

      • View Vacancy
    • View Vacancy

      Restaurant Supervisor

      Liverpool, L12 2AP

      • Salary:

        £20,330 to £21,777 pa

      • Type:

        Fixed term

      • Employer:

        Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust

      • View Vacancy
    • View Vacancy

      Catering Supervisor - Band 3

      Southmead Hospital, Bristol, BS10 5NB

      • Salary:

        £20,330 - £21,777 per annum

      • Type:

        Permanent

      • Employer:

        North Bristol NHS Trust

      • View Vacancy

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