This article has been prompted by the latest Government proposal (Andy Burnham MP) that the NHS be charity run. Do not be fooled people. Yet another copy of a failed USA system.
Copyright Carol Dimon 2015- with a bit of Lenin’s magic.
Charities are usually considered with high regard by members of the public. They provide such essential care and services; many staff working unpaid. Are charities being used by the wealthy, as a tax free scam that rely on the goodwill of public and volunteers?
Over the last few years, the number of Registered charities within the UK has mushroomed. To be registered as a charity in the UK, it has to earn more than £5000 a year (gov.uk).
Some charities are funded by central or local government. Some Directors are very well paid ; Seamark (2014) states “Fresh demands to curb the salaries of fat cat charity bosses were made yesterday after it emerged that Save the Children is paying its top employee £234,000 a year”. There are others “Executives at one of the UK’s most prominent international aid charities were handed bonuses worth more than £160,000 last year” (Ledwith 2013). In 2011 the average salary of charity hospital Directors in the USA was $600,000 with large remuneration for many other members of the hospital board; many of whom are local businesses who tend to win the contracts (Ostrow 2014). Would such human nature not be present in the UK? Are we immune from corruption?
Further,several cases of fraud within charities have been reported, for example in the USA (cironline.org). According to tampabay.com Wallace Christensen, a minister, started Shiloh International Ministries in 1981. Today, its IRS tax filings list this broad mission statement: “To provide medical necessities and moral support to needy children and to provide assistance to the homeless and hungry, our American veterans, children’s hospItals and Christians in need everywhere.” But the charity has spent little cash on its cause. Over the past decade, it has raised $8 million and paid 78 percent of that to the professional solicitors it hired to find donors. In comparison, the charity spent less than 2 percent of donations on direct cash aid to the needy. In the same period, the charity paid its officers a total of $860,000 — nearly eight times more than the cash it spent on its cause. In 2010, the charity was No. 1 on the Oregon attorney general’s list of worst charities, which ranks organizations based on how little they spend on their charitable causes over a three-year period. Officials at Shiloh did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Charity hospitals may actually be bought by private businesses Prnewswire.com (2015) states “California’s largest nurses organization, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United today issued the following statement on the conditional approval of the sale of six Daughters of Charity Health System (DCHS) hospitals in the Bay Area and Los Angeles that were “on life support,” facing imminent bankruptcy, huge reductions in patient services, and closure”.
”Charities are not required to detail by name how much their top executives are paid, and many express the sums in bands, disguising the true figures” “MPs condemned both the pay rates and the secrecy”- but somebody obviously does not condemn it . Indeed some Charity Directors have previous political roles, for example, the former advisor to Tony Blair (Ledwith 2013).
Regarding lower level staff few charities pay them the living wage if they are not “volunteers” “About 200 (or 0.1%) of the UK’s 200,000 charities have so far signed up to be living wage employers, according to the Living Wage Foundation (Smedley 2015).
The profit is put back into the charity they say. In the UK charities are able to invest money as long as it “meets the aim of the charity” (gov.uk ). Individuals may also purchase charity bonds. Could some of these individuals be politicians? Politicians are able to invest in private businesses including healthcare (Nightingale 2014). This could well be a conflict of interest. Indeed, in the USA (Kusnetz 2013) discusses such links between politicians and charities – “State lawmakers have used a variety of legislative tools to steer millions in government money to nonprofit groups with whom they’re closely affiliated. Such relationships are at the root of scandals that have ensnared at least eight state legislators in New York”.
Of course errors or malpractice can still occur within charities as it does anywhere for example, bbcnews (2011), Howell (2013), and Cambridge (2014) within the UK.
Why propose that the NHS be charity run?
The government still puts some money in- the rest may be gained by fund raising. But the government is not then responsible for the service. This reflects many government proposals, such as the hiving off of the Manchester NHS. It is like an admiral giving control of the ship to the crew, then blaming them for the shipwreck.
Any complaints need be eventually made to the charity commission if all else fails. There are separate charity commissions; one for England and Wales, one for Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Charity Regulator for Scotland.
The USA, New Zealand, and Australia already have many charity run hospitals- many of which are proved to be failing, for example (Carville 2013) discusses tax exempt status in New Zealand .
Charities have to return money to the community. “In New Zealand there is a public expectation that if it is a charity it will be charitable but there is no accountability or regulation. It is not good enough. We need to raise the standards as we are way behind,” Gousmett said” (ibid).
Charities are not subject to FOI requests in the UK, so no information has to be provided regarding money and other issues. “Christchurch’s St George’s Hospital, which is run as a charity, made millions of dollars last year but gave back less than $100,000 to the community – an amount slammed by critics as “tokenism” (Carville 2013). The question is, where did the rest of the money go?
Charity owned hospitals in the USA are chasing people for debt- Gold 2012; does this not oppose the public perception of what a charity is? In this way charities are businesses that fund big businesses (Debt collectors). This suits politicians and big businesses.
Any agency that is government or business funded may have gagging clauses ; “Research by the Independence Panel, made up of senior charity experts, found the sector was facing strict contracts controlling what it could say publicly about schemes it was helping to run (telegraph.co.uk 2014). For example, government funded bodies may be less able to debate against the major political perspective regarding such issues as quality of care. RT.com (2015) states that “British charities say they have been targeted in a “subtle” yet “menacing” fashion by prominent political figures for publicly criticizing the coalition’s austerity policies. Others are silenced by gagging clauses in government contracts.” Funding may buy silence. Yet they who are funded are stronger agencies and considered with higher esteem. Are charities a political means of hiding privatisation? Weasel words Lenin, weasel words.