Letter: An obligation to keep faith with the donors

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The Independent Online
Sir: There can be few charitable trustees who do not sympathise with the dilemmas faced by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and other donors (including Sir Philip himself) to the now-aborted Sir Philip Harris House at Guy's Hospital ('Whose money is it anyway, Virginia?', 1 June).

The earliest health facilities were themselves charities, and since the advent of the NHS, charities have remained important supporters of medical research and innovative treatment facilities. But charitable grants, now equivalent to about 1 per cent of the NHS budget, cannot support basic health infrastructure. Where that infrastructure is undermined by closures and reorganisations, as at Guy's, so is the viability of charity-funded special facilities.

For a charitable funder to pull out of an agreed project is rare, but without the guaranteed stability of the host institution, Sir Philip and the ICRF trustees had little choice. Let their withdrawal be a warning that the acceptance of charitable funds brings an obligation to keep faith with the donors

Yours etc,

NIGEL SIEDERER

Director, Association of

Charitable Foundations

London, WC1

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