Legacies helping to improve patient care

22 September 2016

But did you know your local NHS hospital is supported by a charity?

Our local hospitals and their staff take care of us from birth to death, offering unwavering support and compassion. But quite often we don’t include them when we ourselves look to take care of the causes we love as part of those gifts we leave in our Will.

Families and loved ones, of course, come first. But when this has been arranged, healthcare charities are often considered, but not the local hospital.

Our health and the health of a loved one is the most precious thing to us. When we are at risk of ill health, when we are worried or fearful we turn first to the people who have been there for us at every stage of our lives, at any time we needed to feel better. We turn to the doctors and nurses in our community and our local hospitals. We trust them with our lives. We ask them to make us well. We rely on them at the most difficult times.

It’s not that people don’t support their hospitals. They are a vital part of local life and the NHS is one of the most trusted institutions in the UK. Threats to hospital services are met with vehement opposition, protest, rallying and lobbying. We are incredibly proud of our NHS and the values of equality, care and compassion running through it. And our doctors and nurses are often heroes who do an incredible job in difficult circumstances.

But very few people know that their local hospital is supported by a charity and that it needs donations to improve the care and treatment of patients. We’re told that our taxes pay for the NHS. And, with one or two high profile exceptions, the brand awareness of hospital charities is much lower than national healthcare charities, whether or not those charities actively spend money locally.

Ask yourself, did you know you have a local hospital charity, and do you know its name?

And yet there are 264 NHS charities in England, Scotland and Wales delivering better healthcare for people in every single community where the NHS operates. We all benefit from the work they do.

At Sheffield Hospitals Charity, legacies have already driven huge improvements in patient care. Over the last ten years approximately 50% of our charity’s voluntary income has come from legacies. Last year alone, over £1.5m of the £2.8m we were able to spend, came from gifts in wills.

Through these incredible gifts, left by kind people who wanted to say thank you to their local hospitals, we have been able to invest in pioneering treatment; buy equipment at the cutting edge of healthcare to fight diseases and save lives; fund research to offer hope to future generations; support extra training and development for doctors and nurses; and transform local hospitals into places where families feel welcome, informed and can stay close to their loved ones.

So our charity needs to be better at getting this message out into the community, who love and value their local hospitals, at a grassroots level.

Engaging, talking, presenting to people to ensure they know that gifts in a will are a vital part of the way their local hospital is already funded, and that they can and do make a tangible difference. That their NHS is no different to the tax-funded protection of children, research into disease, or conservation of the environment, all of which are enhanced by donations, fundraising and gifts in wills, given to other well-known charities.

But more than that, to inspire them with one of the few causes that they have cared deeply about throughout their lives and where, once they have taken care of those closest to them, they could leave a lasting legacy knowing, beyond any doubt, that the money would be spent locally and that their family, friends, neighbours and local community will all benefit, either now or in the future.

Find a cause you care about to leave a gift to

Duncan Batty, Head of Fundraising & Development at Sheffield Hospitals Charity