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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Public ‘have lost trust’ in Barrow hospital oncology bosses, says founder

THE former head of Furness General Hospital’s under-threat oncology unit believes the public have lost trust in those responsible for running it.

Liz Johnston, who is credited with founding the Barrow facility, says she has been approached by a number of fundraisers worried about money raised specifically to help cancer patients.

It comes after the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust announced plans to remove the eight FGH oncology inpatient beds to allow more day case treatment to take place.

Mrs Johnston, a specialist practitioner in oncological nursing and clinical nurse specialist in haematology, spent 37 years at Barrow’s hospitals and was at the forefront of a £1.5m public fundraising campaign which led to the unit’s opening. Oncology continues to be a major beneficiary for fundraisers in Furness.

Mrs Johnston said: “Over the past week or so I have been approached by a number of people, concerned about fundraising and wanting to know about existing funds. Because of recent events, people are wary of just how much they can trust UHMBT.

“Perhaps the trust, with their new found policy of openness, can allay people’s anxieties by informing the very generous people of Furness what exactly has been achieved over the last eight years.”

UHMBT’s director of finance, Tim Bennett, said that the Morecambe Bay Hospitals Charity publishes its annual reports on its website.

The most recent available online is the document relating to 2010/11, the year it adopted a single charity approach consisting of restricted and unrestricted funds. The document says: “All of the unrestricted and designated/earmarked funds are available for any purpose relating to the NHS but are wholly or mainly for the stated purpose contained in the fund’s title.”

To this, Mr Bennett added: “We would like to reassure all members of the public that any money donated to a specific charitable fund is spent on equipment for that area.

“Members of the public can be assured that any funds raised for local oncology services can only be spent in that area, for the benefit of oncology patients.”

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