‘Thank you’ donations to staff in specific hospital wards are no longer permitted under new rules introduced by NHS Western Isles.
After receiving first class care and treatment in a local hospital ward, many patients choose to make a donation to benefit a specific ward’s staff – however changes to the system mean any donations to staff can only go into new central fund to benefit all NHS Western Isles staff administered by senior personnel.
In the past, patients who wished to show their appreciation could give a donation to be used to improve staff amenities in a particular ward or contribute to occasions like retirement celebrations, however this is no longer possible.
Despite this change, the new staff welfare fund will this year continue to support festive celebrations for all staff.
The changes have brought unease from some staff who believe the public should know where and how their donations are being spent.
All existing staff-specific funds held at ward and departmental level have now been pooled into one specific staff welfare fund.
Donations from the public can still be made towards patient funds in specific wards.
A spokesperson for NHS Western Isles explained that the previous arrangements had created an ‘inequity’.
She said: “A patient may have been admitted for surgery and, on discharge chooses to make a donation for staff. Under previous arrangements the only staff to benefit would be those in the ward/department where the donation was made.”
She added: “The new arrangements mean that departments including theatre, laboratory, catering, domestic staff, estates/maintenance, patient records, administrative staff and others who all make a valuable and distinct contribution to the patient experience will benefit equally from any donations to the staff welfare fund.”
NHS Western Isles say the Endowment Committee had to renew management of its funds in light of national guidance which states that staff functions should not be funded from endowment funds.
Committee members present at a workshop back in April agreed that the most equitable solution was to pool all existing small staff-specific funds held at ward and department level into one specific staff welfare fund.
With approval from the Trustees of the Endowment committee in July, the decision was taken to introduce a single staff welfare fund to be used for the benefit of all staff.
How the funds in the Staff Welfare Fund are spent is the responsibility of the Endowment Trustees who are all Executive and Non-Executive members of the health board.
A spokesperson for the health board said that patient funds would remain at ward level for use within individual wards and departments and added that any patient making an endowment fund donation can specify the purpose for which any donation should be used - for example whether it should be used for the benefit of patients, staff or both.
They added: “The Endowment Committee will continue to monitor and review arrangements in light of evolving national guidance and feedback from staff.
“Staff members will explain options to any members of the public wishing to donate.”
A spokesperson for NHS Highland said they still accepted ward specific donations from the public for staff which can be used for things like team building days or celebrations like retirement functions.
She said these were subject to specific limits and restrictions. There are also generic funds where donations can be made to the hospital in general within NHS Highland .