Hospital donations lost in cash gamble

MORE than £100,000 of charity money has tragically been lost by Ipswich Hospital in a stock market gamble.Money destined for buying things from clinical equipment to chairs and books disappeared when the stock market took a nose dive.

By Jessica Nicholls


health reporter

MORE than £130,000 has been lost by Ipswich Hospital in a stock market gamble.

Money destined for buying items from clinical equipment to chairs and books disappeared when the stock market took a nose dive.

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Although no new money has been invested in the stock markets since September, 2001, £870,000 is still tied up in it from previous investments.

Since then, some small gains have been made in the region of between two and five per cent – but a whopping 15 per cent has been lost in the last year, equating to just over £130,000.

And it is not just our own hospital that takes the chance with people's hard earned money that comes to them through donations and legacies – hospitals all over the country are gambling money on the volatile market.

Chris Dooley, director of finance at Ipswich Hospital said today: "It is a lot of money but we believe our performance is better than other organisations because we have not been investing in the stock market since 2001."

The Evening Star investigated the issue when a shocked fundraiser found out about the loss of money.

Although they did not want to be named, the source said: "As someone who has raised money for them, I think we the public are entitled to know the truth – and deserve to be assured that this will never happen again."

Mr Dooley assured anyone intending to leave a legacy or donation to the hospital that the full amount of money they intended would go to the department or ward that they specify and their wishes always honoured.

Only small percentages are taken from the overall fund and by September last year, the figure for the fund stood at £1.4million.

Money from independent fundraisers such as the League of Friends which has launched campaigns such as the Sir Bobby Robson Jubilee Appeal does not go into hospital funds because the fundraisers usually buy the equipment themselves.

Also smaller amounts given to ward funds are often spent very quickly and are not at risk of being put into equities.

Mr Dooley said Ipswich Hospital strictly follows national guidelines from the Charity Commission which stipulates that money should be invested to get the most benefits they can.

He said that professional financial advisers take control of the funding to say how it is best invested and that everything is rigorously audited.

Mr Dooley said: "We have historically, like most NHS hospitals, invested on the stock market because it gives the best return.

"The stock market started to decline and we have not invested any new funds since September, 2001."

He said that the whole sum of trust funds is usually between £1million and £1.5million, which the hospital has had for years and is either tied up in shares, fixed investment bonds or cash.

Thousands of pounds may have been lost on the money this year but Mr Dooley said it was a case of swings and roundabouts on the stock market and that previous gains have usually offset any losses.

He said: "The stockmarket is a long-term investment and we have had some huge benefits before the year 2000."

Mr Dooley said he was anxious that people intending to fundraise or leave money to the hospital are not put off by the losses.