Mike Dixon (pictured), who arrived in the role in the summer, said: "The HCA recognises the essential role the third sector has in supporting and championing on behalf of patients, helping improve patient health outcomes. Communications is an essential component of their fantastic work."
He said that charities should benefit from "sharing of knowledge and innovation across the whole healthcare communications sector".
The HCA currently has more than 70 members including consultancies, in-house teams and freelancers - but not charities, until now.
Charity members will receive all the benefits of regular membership, which currently costs £150 for freelance members, and £250 to £2,500 for agencies and in-house teams, depending on their size.
Of his broader plans for the organisation, Dixon said: "Members will be seeing more exclusive learning and networking events including free monthly sharing experience events, a new focus on continuing professional development and a more proactive approach to helping support the sector in some of the challenges of today and for the future."
The association was formed in 2001. PRWeek's article on its inception noted that it emerged from the then recently defunct PRCA healthcare group, and said: "Perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of the HCA is the role of leading in-house figures in its upper echelons, adding instant kudos to the fledgling body."
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