The Department for Health has been consulting on final proposals to revise the governance of NHS charities, which would allow NHS bodies to create new independent charities that are properly independent with freedom to appoint independent trustees and with reduced regulation by the DH.

NHS charities that were set up to receive and manage charitable funds on behalf of NHS organisations are currently bound by both charity law and NHS legislation. The hospital trust is usually the sole corporate trustee of the charity.

Under the proposed system, NHS trust charities could establish new independent charities, into which the existing charities could transfer their assets. The new charities would have the freedom to appoint independent trustees and would be subject to less oversight by the DH.

The DH said the proposals are designed to remove regulation by ministers and enable the charities to operate more flexibly and independently, while preserving the close relationship with the providers of NHS services they support.

Feedback was sought from NHS bodies, their charities, patient groups and other interested organisations. Assuming a positive mandate to proceed is received, the DH plans to publish its response and a statement to Parliament in spring 2013, setting out how charitable property in the NHS will be dealt with in the future. The aim is for NHS charities to implement the new model from late spring or summer 2013.