Core funding woes see off the College of Health

The College of Health, the charity set up by the late Michael Young to provide a voice for patients in the NHS, has folded.

Financial problems forced the body, which helped to develop NHS Direct, to close its doors nearly two weeks ago.

But seven of its nine projects will be continued by ethnic minority umbrella body CEMVO, which will set up a successor organisation, the College of Health (2003) Ltd.

CEMVO will invest £250,000 in the new outfit, with promises of more funding to come. "We have huge plans for what it's possible to achieve," said CEMVO chief executive Krishna Sarda.

Of the College's 28 staff, 11 will transfer to the phoenix charity, among them director Marianne Rigge. Discussions are continuing about the exact nature of her role.

Rigge commented: "Although financial losses have been sustained on the part of the organisation, we are determined that the intellectual capital accumulated by the College of Health over the past 20 years is protected and put to effective use."

It is thought that the College's financial problems stemmed from a failure to secure core costs, despite success in attracting funding for research and training.

In September, the College was awarded a two-year contract with CEMVO, to run 33 of the new patient forums designed to increase user involvement in the running of the NHS. The new organisation will take over the management of those forums across London and West Essex. Other work will concentrate on reducing health inequalities.

Sarda said: "We are in the business of tackling inequality - health issues are critical to that. Health inequalities affect ethnic minorities and the white working class, so there is a great synergy between us and the College of Health. We will be an ethnic minority organisation delivering services to the whole community."

The sociologist Michael Young, who died last year, was a prolific creator of voluntary organisations, founding more than 50 in his lifetime, including the Consumers Association and the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

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