LETTER: Kick in the teeth for volunteers

So the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which includes St Richard's Hospital, Worthing Hospital and Southlands Hospital in Shoreham, has decided to entrust all their shop, café and restaurant services (save for the WRVS offerings) to the UK's largest contract caterers '“ Compass Group UK.

Thursday, 24th November 2016, 7:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:06 pm

In the process St Richard’s will casually kick the Friends of Chichester Hospitals out of the hospital shop at St Richard’s which their dedicated volunteers have run so successfully for 20 years and try to find them a broom cupboard somewhere, the assumption being that the Friends and their volunteers will just suck it up and carry on. Compass has promised to deliver – from over half a dozen outlets – at least £450,000 a year in total to the three hospitals.

The Friends deliver pretty much this amount every year in the value of the equipment they fund to St Richard’s alone. The press release issued by the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says the Compass deal will fund the replacement of high value radiology and ultrasound equipment; the Friends could readily have funded that equipment if asked, but they weren’t.

The Friends have delivered £75,000 to £80,000 a year just from the hospital shop at St Richards, forming part of the hundreds of thousands of pounds of equipment the Friends fund for St Richard’s every year; if you read the Trust’s press release you could be forgiven for thinking the shop was loss-making. But then no explanation has ever been given for the decision to include the Friends shop in the tender process the Trust decided to run – a deeply flawed process with no consultation (you might think it would at least have spoken to the Friends’ volunteers before embarking on this process – but no).

The assumption that the Friends’ volunteers will just happily carry on fundraising for St Richard’s after this deplorable kick in the teeth is arrogant and unwise.

The hospital shop has been the beating heart of the Friends, the focus and the HQ for much of their fundraising.

Donations are hard won, often in competition with other good causes, and some big donors will be questioning why they should continue to support St Richard’s now that it has decided to raise its required funding from a commercial organisation and may look at other worthy causes for future donations.

Congratulations, St Richard’s. How could you get this so very, very wrong?

What did my grandmother used to call it – cutting off your nose to spite your own face?

If ever a decision cried out for judicial review!

Mark Hepworth

New Brighton Road