Norwich hospital begging to patients for donations, MP says

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Clive Lewis
Image caption MP Clive Lewis fears a “begging bowl” letter for hospital funds could become a “demand”

An MP has accused a hospital of using a “begging bowl” in an appeal to patients for medical equipment fund donations.

Clive Lewis said a plea in Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital patients’ appointment letters was an “ask” today but tomorrow could be a “demand”.

The hospital said the appeal was “common practice” but the NHS in Suffolk and Essex denied this.

Mr Lewis, Norwich South MP, said it was “a slippery slope so I think there will be a lot of people worried over this”.

The BBC contacted hospitals in the two counties and all except Broomfield and Colchester, who have yet to reply, said they did not appeal for funds in this way.

‘Incredibly grateful’

In the letters to patients, a final paragraph from the hospital states: “With restrictions on public funding, voluntary donations can really make a difference.”

The hospital’s charity Just Giving page raised more than a £1m last year.

A hospital spokesperson told the BBC: “Donations to the charity make a difference and we’re incredibly grateful for the money we receive.”

Image caption All patient appointment letters carry an appeal for funds for additional medical equipment, research and facilities

Despite further requests from the BBC, it has declined to comment on the fact other hospitals in the region do not use these methods to get funding.

The Department for Health and NHS England has also declined to comment.

The letter also states how the hospital trust endeavours “to provide the highest quality service”, with donations helping it to make “improvements to patient facilities”.

Mr Lewis said it shows the trust was “putting at the bottom of patient letters a begging bowl in effect asking for charitable funds for basic hospital equipment and services”.

“Today, it’s an ‘ask’ but some people will think tomorrow it could be a ‘demand’,” he added.

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