A Department of Health review of the regulation and governance of NHS charities was carried out in 2011/12 and was followed by a consultation on proposals to change the policy on the regulation and governance of charities. The government’s response was published on 14 March 2014.

NHS charities are linked directly to NHS bodies and as such are currently regulated by both the Charity Commission and by the NHS Act 2006. NHS charities identified a number of key issues that this dual regulation raises such as:

  • Appointing NHS body representatives to trustee bodies
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest inherent in the corporate trustee model
  • The need for accounts to be consolidated in the NHS bod

The current legal framework may also give rise to tension for government ministers who may be seen by some as being “inappropriately” involved in operational issues.

It comes as no surprise therefore that respondents to the consultation welcomed the proposals to allow charities to seek greater independence under the sole regulation of the Charity Commission and to remove dual regulation requirements.

This change will allow charities to further develop the support they give to patients and improve their opportunities to generate future income. This will also mean NHS charities can, if they choose, appoint a dedicated board of trustees with the expertise to develop the charity. According to the government’s response “a layer of central bureaucracy is also being removed because in future where NHS charities decide to follow this path neither the department nor ministers will be involved in appointments to the charities and fund transfers.”