Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Healthy fundraising, healthy health service

Good to see in the Times today a report from Rosie Bennett making clear that Olive Cooke's granddaughter wants to set the record straight; she is not blaming charities for driving her grandmother to suicide.  This rather puts some of the nasty and lurid press stories into perspective - and I recommend the article to some of those MPs who have decided that they need to "sort out" charity fundraising.

I also want to congratulate Alistair McClean, who runs the fundraising standards board on his deft and sensible handling of the issue.  He showed great skill in making the case for charity fundraising but recognising the broader issues it raises for us as a sector. As I said, it's something CEOs in fundraising charities will want to review and keep an eye on - and I'm glad Alistair is reviewing this in the standards board.  A healthy complaints process is good for those who have a problem but also for charities generally. 

It's interesting that of late the media - or at least parts of it are much more willing to have a go at charities than before.  Probably part of the general questioning of those in perceived positions of power or influence. As a sector we should be careful in our response. The answer is not to fall overboard on "transparency". Yes, we need to be better at demonstrating impact and explaining what we do but that does not mean we reveal all, for example the odd suggestion that we might publish details of party affiliations.

And yesterday was another health day - for me and indeed the PM and Head of NHS England.  I had lunch with ACEVO member Dr Crystal Oldman, who runs the Queens Nursing Institute; a fascinating body set up in 1859 by 2 great Victorians, Liverpool philanthropist William Rathbone and Florence Nightingale.  The founding mission was to promote district nursing.  William Rathbone had seen the importance of having a nurse to care for his wife at home during her final illness.  After his wife's death he employed the nurse who had helped his wife to support other people who could not afford nursing care at home.  So started this small third sector body which grew into a national organisation setting standards and training nurses. Now such training is provided through universities and other educational institutions but the QNI remains a force in advocacy, campaigns and policy development.

Another example of the innovative and pioneering work done by the third sector.  There is no doubt that nursing support at home needs strengthening.  Indeed these days there is so much more that can be provided in the home that the NHS is curiously unsupportive of.  Try getting chemo sorted at home!  It can be done but hospitals like you to go to them!

Its was one of the underlying messages of David Cameron's excellent speech on a 7 day a week health service yesterday; we need to look more at how we support community health and care services and how we promote well being and prevent bad health.  Simon Stevens rightly focused on the challenge of diabetes. It already takes 10% of the entire budget.  It is clear that there is a growing problem of obesity amongst young people.  Many kids now coming out of primary school are overweight.  I think Simon Stevens is right- we will need to tackle this in many ways including legislation and regulations on sugar and salt content, supermarket labelling etc. This needs a robust response and yet still our NHS is focused on providing a sickness service and downplays the role of prevention and community support. 

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