More than half a million pounds has been donated to Scottish NHS charities to help them respond to the Covid-19 outbreak, with more cash to come in coming months.

The money – £525,000 in total – has been raised through the Covid-19 Urgent Appeal which is led by NHS Charities Together.

An initial £35,000 grant has been distributed to each of the 15 Scottish NHS charities which are members of the national umbrella body, in a bid to help them quickly boost their work supporting NHS staff, volunteers and patients.

The cash has been raised through millions of private donations from people across the UK. However, it cannot be used to subsidise the statutory responsibilities of the government.

This means the money will not be spent on protective equipment for NHS workers or ventilators, despite repeated concerns over supplies from whistleblowers, trade unions and politicians.

Instead, the first payments will be used to support the immediate needs of workers and patients during the Covid-19 epidemic. This may include providing comfortable places where staff and volunteers can take breaks, healthy meals and counselling. It may also cover travel and accommodation costs.

Whilst visiting restrictions apply in many hospitals, work is also being done to help patients stay in touch with loved ones, by providing tablets and the software needed for “virtual visiting.”

The donations received will help provide essential support for the incredible NHS staff volunteers and patients in ways above and beyond that which NHS funding provides. Jane Ferguson, NHS Charities Together

Jane Ferguson, Director of Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and Trustee of NHS Charities Together, said: “The response across the whole country to the NHS Charities Together’s Covid-19 Urgent Appeal has been amazing.

“The donations received will help provide essential support for the incredible NHS staff volunteers and patients in ways above and beyond that which NHS funding provides.

“An initial substantial grant of £35,000 has been made equally to each NHS charity across Scotland, England and Wales.”

NHS Charities Together plans to make further grants to local NHS charities based on the number of NHS employees within each trust or health board where a local group operates.  This means that money raised is split in a “fair and equitable way across larger and smaller Trusts and Health Boards,” explained Ferguson.

“Each NHS charity is there to support their NHS trust or health board and to respond to what they and their staff, volunteers and patients need on an ongoing basis. As this crisis develops, there is no doubt those needs will change and NHS charities will continue to respond to that and try to meet those needs,” she added.

Whilst the current focus is on the immediate needs of workers and patients, in the longer term the money will also “fund programmes to help staff and volunteers recover fully once the crisis has abated, reducing the long-term impact on them and the people they care about.”

“It will also support planning to allow people to leave hospital quicker and safely,” she added.

Fact check: debunking myths about coronavirus

More than £81m has been raised to help NHS charities across the UK to cope with the increased demand that the Covid-19 outbreak will place on services. This means that Scottish charities will receive more cash from the appeal in coming months.

Captain Tom Moore is among the largest donors. The 99 year-old set out to raise £1000 for the Covid-19 Urgent Appeal by walking 100 lengths of his 25m long garden before his 100th birthday. He has now raised more than £28m from more than a million online supporters.

Another viral fundraising campaign, dubbed Run For Heroes, has raised nearly £5m in a matter of weeks by asking people to run, walk or cycle 5KM and donate £5. It also encourages five others to take part on social media.

In recent weeks The Ferret has reported concerns on how the Covid-19 outbreak has impacted the services the most vulnerable people in Scotland depend on including asylum seekers and drug users.


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Karen McAllister

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