LETTER: Shop is vital to fundraising

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The decision of the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to include the Friends shop at St Richard’s in its tender for all its retail catering operations was wrong on many grounds, not least because it doesn’t do any retail catering and is highly profitable, but principally because the shop has been at the heart of the Friends’ extraordinary fundraising which has delivered equipment worth about £400,000 a year to St Richard’s for many a year now.

So the press release from the Trust in your paper quoting David Jones was self-serving when it said that the £450,000 a year which has been guaranteed by Compass for the Trust’s three hospitals (from over half a dozen cafés, restaurants and shops) was three times the amount delivered by the three shops run by the Friends of each of those hospitals.

The fact that the Friends of St Richard’s deliver almost that amount every year was not mentioned – and never has been in any of the Trust’s press releases about this process.

The Trust seems to think that it can kick the Friends out of their shop at St Richard’s and still expect them to give the Trust hundreds of thousands of pounds of equipment every year. Never mind the hubris, the Trust has never understood the vital importance of the shop to the brilliant and consistent fundraising achievements of the Friends and its dedicated volunteers.

The real key is that the shop is situated in the only location that works for all the patients, staff and visitors who use it and for the logistical requirements of the shop’s operation – sorry, there isn’t anywhere else this will work.

So your campaign to support the Trust in finding a different location for the Friends is misguided and falls into the same trap the Trust has fallen into.

What should happen is that the Trust and Compass should agree to exclude the Friends shop at St Richards from the contract (it never had anything to do with the ‘healthy eating’ retail catering rationale for the process in the first place) and reduce the commitment from Compass accordingly.

In this way St Richard’s can still look forward to £300,000 to £400,000 a year from the Friends and its share from about £350,000 to £370,000 a year from Compass.

The Trust as a whole could look forward to a total of £650,000 to £770,000 a year instead of £450,000 a year from Compass and a few bob from the Friends.

Simples.

Mark Hepworth

New Brighton Road

Emsworth