15th September 2016
The Friends of Chichester Hospitals, League of Friends of Worthing Hospital, League of Friends of Southlands Hospital
Statement regarding Western Sussex Foundation Trust retail/catering services, and the services run by the Friends at each hospital (shops, teabar, café)
We have become aware that there is considerable public concern about the Trust’s decision to put to tender all retail/catering services in the main restaurants and reception areas at its three hospitals, where the Friends have been based for decades, serving the needs of patients, visitors and staff. The Friends remain dedicated to the service of patients, staff and visitors through our shops, cafes, ward trolleys etc, which help to make a difference for people needing refreshments or a convenient source of necessities for a hospital stay.
The Friends very much hope to continue delivering the services which support our hospitals, both directly by selling everyday items needed by patients and staff such as newspapers, snacks, drinks and toiletries, plus affordable gifts, cards and stationery, and indirectly through funding vital medical and other equipment in our hospitals.
The Friends’ shops are professionally run, almost entirely by dedicated, caring volunteers, who give their time freely to help our hospitals and support patients and relatives at a difficult time. As a result, despite the need to balance affordability with the offering of quality goods and well-known brands, yearly profits have been substantial and are entirely returned to the hospitals via the purchase of much-needed equipment. Since 1948, when the Friends of St Richard’s and Worthing Hospitals were both founded (Southlands in 1950), the NHS has grown immensely and the cost of equipment has escalated because of new technology and modern medical ability to treat more conditions.
The Friends offer empathy, a genuinely friendly service, and are closely linked to the communities our hospitals serve. We are concerned that there is a risk that some services may not continue if the Friends shops are closed, such as the daily ward trolley at St Richard’s, which is supported by the thriving shop, and indeed there is also concern that the Friends of Southlands Hospital would cease to exist.
The Friends believe that the financial loss to our hospitals would be significant if we are unable to continue running our retail services for the benefit of the hospitals and the community
All shop and café profits are returned to our hospitals, with significant added value. These profits are our most reliable source of annual income, and the accessibility of the current locations at our hospitals’ main entrances is very important for customer convenience. The stock offered by Friends’ shops and cafes is tailored to the needs of each location.
With additional volunteer-led fundraising, the Friends have annually donated far more in real terms than just the retail profits. From 2008-2015, St Richard’s Friends have given equipment costing £3.2million, while Friends of Worthing Hospital have donated equipment to the value of £5.9 million in the last 10 years. Friends of Southlands Hospital have donated £180,000 of equipment during the last 6 years, despite the much reduced services provided there since it ceased to have in-patients and has been in the process of modernisation and reconfiguration.
The Friends are very much community-based charities, working to support and enhance the facilities of our hospitals through service and donations of much-needed equipment. Many expressions of public support have been received demonstrating how much our services are valued by patients and visitors, so it is hoped that people will express their support for the Friends’ charities directly to the Trust, by writing to Mike Viggers, Chairman, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, at either Worthing Hospital, Lyndhurst Road, Worthing BN11 2DH or at St Richard’s Hospital, Spitalfield Lane, Chichester PO19 6SE