Donations will not be incorporated into NHS budgets, says Phil Hope

Trustees of NHS charities will continue to have full responsibility for charitable funds, health minister tells Parliament

Phil Hope, the health minister and former minister for the third sector, has insisted that the Government has no plans to divert donations to NHS charities into mainstream NHS budgets.

Last year, the Department of Health said new accounting regulations introduced by the Treasury meant some NHS charities would have to consolidate their assets into the accounts of their associated NHS trusts.

The Charity Commission described the measure as "wholly inappropriate" because it increased the risk that charitable funds would be misapplied.

The issue was raised in the House of Commons during health questions on Tuesday, when Conservative MP David Heathcoat-Amory's called for an "absolute assurance" that the Government would not cut the budgets of NHS trusts in proportion to their charitable income,

Hope said: "That is not the case, and never will be. Charity trustees will continue to have full responsibility for charitable funds."

The accounting rules were not a matter for the Department of Health, he said, but he was working with a number of stakeholders, including the Treasury and the Charity Commission, to find ways to meet accounting standards "without invoking the requirement for consolidation".

Hope said: "There is no question whatsoever that charitable funds could be used as part of NHS budgets. I want that very important message to go out from the House today."

He criticised the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Norman Lamb, for putting out "misleading information" that he said could deter people from making donations to NHS charities.

Hope said NHS charities donated £62m and assets worth £65m to NHS trusts and primary care trusts in England in 2008/09.

Only one in 10 NHS charities would be affected by the new accounting rules because they apply only when charitable income is above a certain threshold.

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