With thanks to Geoffrey Rivett

The Club is Founded

23rd March 1885

At St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London’s West Smithfield, nine gentlemen administrators, from some of the oldest and most eminent voluntary hospitals in the metropolis, met to found the Hospital Officers’ Club. With Dr J C Steele (Guy’s) in the Chair, and on the proposition of Mr W H Cross (Bart’s), seconded by Mr W J Nixon (The London), the club agreed unanimously that: ‘It is desirable to establish a club for the purpose of social intercourse tending to frank interchange of opinion between gentlemen actively engaged in the administration of Public Hospitals….and that such a club shall be called the Hospital Officers’ Club, and the several gentlemen now present do constitute themselves members thereof’. Those founding nine comprised J S Blyth (Royal Free), W H Cross (Bart’s), P Michelli (St Mary’s), N H Nixon (University College), W J Nixon (The London), S M Quennell (Westminster), A E Reade (Charing Cross), Dr J C Steele (Guy’s) and F Walker (St Thomas’s). The first annual subscription to the Club was set at 2/6d (probably now equivalent to £4 or £5) and it was agreed that three ordinary meetings should be held in each year on the last Fridays of February, June and October, when members should dine together and be free to invite visitors if they so wished. In addition, the committee was empowered to call a special meeting whenever it felt this to be necessary, for dining, business discussion or any other purpose, subject to a week’s notice being given. The advent…

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Club Impedimenta

2nd March 1896

In 1896 the camaraderie and general bonhomie of Club dinners were undoubtedly enhanced by the acquisition of two pieces of impedimenta – a Loving Cup and a ballot box. On 2nd March a ‘2 handle Irish silver cup and pedestal’ was purchased from Messrs Chapple & Mantell, 32 Strand, WC, for £15 plus 25 shillings for engraving and a further 30 shillings for a morocco leather case in which to put it. On an unrecorded date some time after the 26th of June a ballot box polished oak costing 15 shillings was obtained from Messrs George Kenning & Son, 1-4 Little Britain, EC, ‘manufacturers of jewels, clothing, distinctive banners and every requisite for all degrees in Freemasonry, and insignia for all societies.’

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Criteria for Membership

1st January 1921

The ‘three years as a principal administrator’ qualification was introduced in 1921, and in 1926 a principal administrator entitled to be considered for membership of the Club was defined as ‘an officer directly responsible to the governing body for the administration of the hospital and representing the governing body in its absence’.

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After Dinner Speakers

1st January 1922

Minutes record the first of a series of guest speakers, eminent in the hospital world, who were to include in due course at each February meeting, such members of the peerage as the Earl of Arran, Viscounts Hambleden and Knutsford, and Lord Riddell. In addition, as the minutes clearly disclose, the Club meetings of the 1920s were concerned with discussions on a variety of interesting and important topics. These ranged from Lord Cave’s Ministry of Health’s views on co-operation between hospitals, both voluntary and municipal; to the Local Government Bill of 1929, waking hours of patients, co-operative advertising, sweep-stakes, brighter out-patient departments and the use of publicity agents. The trend continued into the 1930s, and in the Club’s golden jubilee year at a meeting on 25th October 1935, it was generally agreed ‘that some matter of general hospital interest shall be included in the agenda for each dinner of the Club’. To list the speakers and their subjects over the past forty years (impressive though they are) would be both tiresome and time consuming. A few taken at random are Sir Wilson Jameson in the Club’s diamond jubilee year speaking generally on hospital matters in the run up to the NHS; Mr C W Guillebaud in 1956, on his committee’s report on NHS costs; Mr H V Hodgson, Editor of the Sunday Times, in 1960 on hospitals and the Press; Sir Arthur Porritt in 1963 on his Medical Services Review Committee report and, of course, just for the pure fun…

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Meetings To Take Place In Hospitals

1st January 1952

The decision that it should be so was taken in 1952, and prior to that, while the special, usually non-dining meetings tended to be in hospitals, the three ordinary dinner meetings each year were not unexpectedly held in institutions dedicated to gastronomy rather than to healing.

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Women Granted Membership

1st January 1980

Members accepted that they must change with the changing times and, to their eternal credit, agreed in the early 1980s to the acceptance of women as members, speakers and guests. The official reception held on Thursday, 21st March 1985, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Club was, in consequence, most apposite in more ways than one. Not only was it held within two days of the actual 100th birthday of the Club and at the very hospital where the Club was founded (at Bart’s in Gibbs’ Great Hall) but also the guest of honour at the reception who spoke so charmingly to literally every one of the hundred or more members and guests present, was a woman – HRH The Duchess of Gloucester.

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The Club Meets Again

26th April 2016

And so, in 2016, the club will once again host regular meetings. Open to current and former CEO’s in healthcare organisations, you can register for your place here.

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Health CEOs’ Club Dinner

10th May 2017

CEO members participated in a Schwartz-style Round session in which members talked about cases that haven’t gone so well, mistakes made, decisions that proved wrong and what members learnt from this. Please visit the Point of Care Foundation site for more on Schwartz Rounds.

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