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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Labour to 'steal' charity NHS donations

Andy Burnham MP is definitely making waves as the new Health Secretary and today is no exception with two NHS stories making the news, hospital parking charges and NHS charity donations.

I may well comment on car parking charges later today, but for now I want to comment on the fact that the government now want to help themselves to any NHS charity donations.

Last year over £330million was donated to over 300 NHS charities in the period June 2007 to June 2008, cancer and children's charities were among the beneficiaries.

Institutions such as Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Royal Marsden are bound to be affected by the new rules but how will donations towards Macmillan Nurses be dealt with, what about the hospitals where the WRVS volunteers run the cafe?

Government Ministers are imposing new rules from the 1st April next year on all NHS charities requiring their donations, including those to specialist children and cancer units, local fundraising campaigns, teaching hospitals and local community trusts all to be listed on a hospital’s balance sheet.

My concern, and that of many others is that the government will use these figures to then reduce the amount they allocate to that particular Trust. In other words those Trusts with a history of fundraising or who are just lucky that a local group fund raise on their behalf could lose out.

This change of mind could lead to hundreds of millions of pounds of charitable donations being effectively nationalised under the NHS.

Government Ministers were banned from counting charitable donations towards the central NHS budget under the original legislation that created the NHS back in 1948.

But this looks set to be reversed by the Labour government after the Treasury agreed to implement International Accounting Standard (IAS) 27. Now all NHS Trusts whose trustees have the “power to control” their charitable arm look likely to be forced to consolidate both sets of accounts in one.

I hope the government change their minds on this one, or at the very least, do not offset the charitable donations with a cut in their budgets - let's be honest, would you trust Labour not to do this?

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