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New report confirms charities’ potential to improve UK health

13 April 2016

A report released today by New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), confirms that UK health charities like the British Red Cross, have potential to do more to improve health and wellbeing in the UK.

The report is entitled ‘Untapped Potential: Bringing the voluntary sector’s strengths to health and care transformation’. It has been produced by NPC for the Richmond Group of charities and partners of the ‘Doing the Right Thing’* project, which includes the Red Cross.

It confirms that charities can and do add value to the NHS through both improving the wellbeing of people, and as trusted organisations influencing the design and delivery of services.

With the NHS under pressure and in urgent need of support, better collaboration with health charities could improve care, reduce hospital admissions and bring down costs.

Taking the pressure off

Lots of charities offer services that remove burdens on the NHS and improve the wellbeing of communities. Our support at home service is highlighted in the report as one which proves positive outcomes for patients.

Each year, thousands of patients who are well enough to be discharged from hospital end up staying longer because they cannot support themselves at home.

The patients understandably become frustrated and homesick, while the NHS has to channel precious resources into caring for people who no longer have a medical need.

Those who are discharged without any support network sometimes struggle to look after themselves once they’re back at home. Sometimes this leads to hospital re-admissions.

Our support at home service provides short-term practical and emotional support to help people regain their independence.

Sylvia Darby from Ipswich was offered this service after spending six weeks in hospital being treated for double pneumonia and pleurisy.

Despite usually being very independent, she felt weak after her illness and was grateful for the support she received.

“I think that for people with no local support, this service is absolutely vital,” she said.

As the report highlights, there is data to confirm that this service results in increased well-being, coping skills, and management of daily lives among those who use it.

Adding value

However, the value charities can bring as a whole are largely under-recognised by the NHS and other decision makers in the UK health system.

It is hoped this report and its recommendations could open the door to giving charities a growing role in designing and delivering better care here in the UK.

Talking about the report, our chief executive Mike Adamson said:

“Pressures on the NHS keep growing and show no signs of slowing down.

“Now is the time to harness the experience and expertise of charities like the British Red Cross to create a stronger health and care system for the British people.

“Healthcare chiefs have pledged to design easier ways for voluntary organisations to work alongside the NHS in the ‘Five Year Forward’ strategy.

“The recommendations in this report offer a good starting point.”

*The Doing the Right Thing project is a landmark collaboration between the Richmond Group of Charities (made up of 12 leading health and care charities), the British Red Cross, Mind, the Royal Voluntary Service and Public Health England. It came together in response to the Five Year Forward View and the new opportunities to transform the health and care system that it presents.

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