HOSPITAL bosses have had to dip into charitable donations and legacies as they battle to slash £40m from their budget.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has rarely had to delve into its charity funds, which come from donations from local groups and individuals and legacies left when people pass away.
But since the economic crisis and the news that the trust must save £40m over the next three years from its £260m budget, bosses are relying on the charity fund more than ever.
A report to a meeting of the trust’s board of directors, held last Thursday, said the net assets of the fund have dropped by £165,000 to £1.438m in the past year, showing a “commitment by the trust to utilise existing funds”.
It adds that donations decreased in 2010/11 and “reflect the variable nature of the charity’s income and wider economic climate”.
But the report goes on to say this trend reversed in 2011-12 with a significant increase in legacy income.
It adds that from 2010-11 the charity’s total income was £477,000, compared to £487,000 the previous year.
Direct charity spending was £626,000, up from £472,000.
The money was largely spent on medical equipment and staff training worth £162,000.
Trust chief executive Alan Foster said: “It’s pleasing to see that we are trying to use the funds for which they were donated.
“We have had some sizeable legacies in the current year which might offset our increased level of spending.
“Nevertheless, it’s nice to be left money.
“We have got to use it wisely for the benefit of patients.
“Hopefully we can continue in terms of much-needed medical equipment.”
The report says £19,300 was spent on refurbishing the rheumatology and chemotherapy unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, £85,000 on ultrasound equipment, £40,000 towards syringe and infusion pumps and £39,000 on scalp coolers.
A further £15,000 was invested in heart monitors, defribilators and stroke monitors, £10,000 went towards exercise equipment, while a total of £37,000 funded an incubator, a birthing pool, endocavitory probe, and Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) care chairs, and a jaundice treatment blanket.
Trust chairman Paul Garvin said: “Great things have been achieved through donations and legacies that the trust received, and certainly the charitable funds committee are committed to spending the money because in the past, we ended up sitting on it and it’s not what people gave it for.
“It’s there to be invested for the benefit of patients and people who attend the hospital.”
The report says: “The corporate trustee would like to express his thanks to all who have made charitable donations to the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
“The support and assistance of the public, patients, local businesses and community associations is much appreciated and helps in providing the best possible service to everyone who is cared for in our hospitals.”