An NHS trust has been forced to resort for crowdfunding in order to purchase equipment for a new hospital unit.
The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore, north west London, believes that it will be impossible to get this unit started without donations from the general public.
Government money is currently diverted to frontline staff and services according to the trust, ensuring that investment in updating facilities is problematical.
Responding to the news, the GMB union described it as a “damning indictment” of NHS funding.
The ‘Make it Possible’ project is a first for any NHS trust and breaks new ground, with the ideas for improving care coming from patients and families.
RNOH is hoping to fund a spinal injuries unit from the crowdfunding project, with new equipment to rehabilitate patients and additional beds particularly targeted.
Despite criticism, the campaign has already raised £126,000 of the £400,000 pounds that the hospital ultimately hopes to gather via donations.
Rob Hurd, chief executive at the RNOH, explained that the crowdfunding campaign is simply a necessity.
“We have to be frank, capital is constrained in our National Health Service and investment in facilities is really difficult at this time. We are putting all our money into frontline nurses, doctors and providing the services. That means the infrastructure that we have got doesn’t get replaced as quickly as we would like. So we need the help of donations and charitable sources to make those additional investments. So we really value those donations because without them we cannot even get started”.
The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital is a world-leading treatment centre for spinal cord injuries
Every year the hospital deals with more than 2,000 patients from all over the UK.
But the infrastructure of the hospital is decaying somewhat, with the institution comprising numerous ageing buildings and portable cabins, some of which date back as far as the war years.
And National Secretary of the GMB, Rehana Azam, was strongly critical of the government policy which has made such an approach necessary.
“That the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital is asking members of the public to crowdfund improvements is a damning indictment of this government’s reluctance to properly fund the NHS. It seems that it’s not just workers and patients who’re expected to suffer at the hands of NHS cuts; apparently the public’s bank balances are too.”
A Department of Health spokesperson stated that £10 billion is being invested nationwide into the NHS, including about £4 billion extra this year and a further £20 billion to fund capital programmes such as maintenance and building projects.