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NHS still rattling tins for funds

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7267.982 (Published 21 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:982

As a new report shows that London's NHS now gets almost a tenth of its funding from charity, Roger Dobson looks at how the charitable sector is still propping up the health service

Aneurin Bevan, the founder of the NHS, said in his book In Place of Fear: “It is repugnant to a civilised community for hospitals to have to rely upon charity. I have always felt a shudder of repulsion when I have seen nurses and sisters who ought to be at their work … going about the streets collecting money for the hospitals.”

Now, more than 50 years later, some doctors and charity workers are complaining that the health service is still too reliant on voluntary contributions. Charity funding, once the icing on the cake for the NHS, is increasingly providing the filling as well.

A new report, Philanthropic Funds in London's Healthcare, estimates that charitable funding accounts for almost 10% of NHS spending in the capital. Charities contribute about £500m ($700m) a year to health care in London, compared with about £5bn that comes from the NHS. London's hospitals alone are now estimated to be getting more than £200m a year from charitable funds.

Apart from the huge funds that London hospitals attract, health research across the country owes an …

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