One in four Brits think the NHS will be defunct within the next two decades, according to new research.
A poll conducted early this month of British adults by fast.MAP found that 21 per cent of men and three in ten women believed the NHS will cease to exist in 20 years time.
Responding to the poll results, fundraising consultant Dan Fletcher said: "Fundraising for NHS charities has never been straightforward. It is most successful when relating to grateful patients, and in those occasions, the precise organisation behind the care is of lower importance.
“If the NHS disappears, health care will still need to be delivered. People experiencing ill health will still be in need. 'Charity' will still have a role for them. The challenge will come if commercial bodies deliver that care. But the voluntary sector is very adaptive, and will find solutions to continue helping people."
Nottingham University Hospital Charity chief executive Barbara Cathcart said she did not agree with the doomsayers on the future of the NHS. “I think the NHS will be around, it will just be delivered differently,” she said.
Cathcart said her charity has had as good a year as ever.
"People love the NHS and by dealing with an NHS charity it prolongs their relationship and connection to the care they’ve had."
NHS charities review
This finding comes as the Department of Health has just closed a consultation into the future regulation and governance of the 283 NHS charities presently operating. Alongside the wider debate about the future of the NHS, the proposals, put forward last autumn, suggest removing the ‘dual regulation’ of NHS charities and moving towards a system in which the Charity Commission is responsible for regulating these charities. The review also proposed the creation of new charities to which the assets of existing ones would be passed.
The Department of Health consultation said this would remove regulation by ministers, improve flexibility and independence in the interests of patients and donors, all while maintaining the close relationship between NHS providers and the charities which fundraise for them.
Cathcart said that even if there was a change in the governance of NHS charities, individuals will still give to those charities. She said most donors are not even aware of the structure of the organisation they are giving to.
“They’re giving to their doctor, but we’re the legal mechanism by which the donations are held,” she said. “It’s a very personal thing, they are thanking their doctor with money.”