Pembrokeshire residents have raised millions for Withybush Hospital over the years – often for causes and wards close to their hearts – but there are now concerns that money is being put into one big Hywel Dda-wide pot.
Among those worried is Chris Evans-Thomas, who has raised money tirelessly for a new cancer day unit (CDU) at Withybush via Adam’s Bucketful of Hope, set up by her son nearly ten years ago before his death from leukaemia.
“There were three fundraising accounts, Bucketful of Hope, CDU and Ward 10, but someone noticed the code had changed as it’s no longer these accounts but Pembrokeshire cancer services.
“We want to know where our money has come from and where it has gone,” said Chris, who implored fundraisers to ensure they specified where they wanted the money spent.
Tony Wales, chairman of Hywel Dda Community Health Council (CHC), added: “It’s a huge concern. People donate to a specific area but it’s being channelled into a general fund.
“We’ve had feedback from patients saying they are concerned about where money is being spent – they give in the belief it is spent specifically on the ward but feel as if they’re being duped.”
It was suggested at a recent CHC meeting that undertakers should be given information so they could help people donating money following the death of a friend or relative.
Hywel Dda CHC chief officer Ashley Warlow said there were concerns and people needed to know where the money they raised was going.
But Hywel Dda Health Board county director for Pembrokeshire, Mark Brandreth, emphasised that charitable donations were heavily regulated by the Charity Commission.
“I’m wholly confident the money is being spent properly,”
A health board spokeswoman added that Hywel Dda Charitable Funds worked independently of the health board to support local healthcare services.
She added: “If a donor clearly specified that the donation is for a particular item, ward, department, service we are legally required to use it in that way or consult with the donor on alternative use.
“As part of a review of funds we set up a new Hywel Dda General Fund. We are keen to develop this fund to fund our ‘support for life’ initiative as it gives the greatest flexibility to use the money raised where it is needed most, at the time it is needed most.
“By letting us know that you want the money you raise or donate to be used where it is most needed we can continue this work.
“However, we would reiterate that people can of course specify a service to support.”