An urgent appeal to support NHS charities during the Covid-19 pandemic raised £160m, research shows.
The umbrella body NHS Charities Together said the appeal, launched during the early days of the pandemic in March 2020, became a focus for the public as people looked for ways to support the NHS during the crisis.
The overwhelming majority of the cash – £148m – has been allocated to charities attached to hospitals and NHS trusts all over the UK.
But the research, published by NHSCT today, says the total distributed to charities so far is “approaching £100m”, meaning that millions of pounds has not yet reached the front line.
The report says NHSCT distributed £20m in emergency grants in the first 10 weeks of the pandemic and had given out £42m by the end of 2020.
The initial emergency funding backed more than 4,000 projects, the research shows, most of which paid for mental-health and wellbeing support for NHS staff.
The fundraising also paid for counselling services, spaces for NHS staff to rest between shifts and projects to increase vaccine take-up among black and ethnic minority patients.
The report says NHSCT introduced 100 new charities to its network in the weeks after the appeal was launched to make sure the money could be shared with as many hospital charities as possible.
It says: “At the height of the pandemic, NHSCT gave the public a focus for their outpouring of support for health service staff and patients.
“The funds raised through our NHSCT Covid-19 Urgent Appeal gave emergency help when it was desperately needed and have gone on to enable the NHS to test new ways of working and change systems for the better.
“By bridging the gap between the voluntary and community sector and NHS services, we have enabled NHS charities to increase their funding, access training, and support each other better.”
The largest amount of money – £6.1m – was allocated to NHS charities in the midlands. The smallest amount went to Northern Ireland, where charities received £975,000.
The report’s recommendations include closer partnerships between NHS charities and NHSCT in the future “so that we can amplify the voice of the sector”.