Record breaking NHS Covid appeal helped 1.6 million people in first phase, with lasting legacy for thousands of projects

On 11th May 2023
Categories: 2023

Our new report1 is for the first time highlighting the impact of the British public’s record-breaking fundraising during the pandemic – which ultimately generated £160 million to support NHS staff, patients and communities in the wake of Covid-19.

A review of the first phase of funding – totalling £42 million – shows that initial emergency grants supported over 1.6 million people2 through at least 4,241 projects in every UK nation and region3. Over 90% of NHS charities surveyed said projects had made a lasting impact, and three-quarters (75%) said projects had continued, either in full or in part, beyond the initial funding period – in total over 2,800 projects are estimated to be continuing in some way.

In March 2020, following urgent consultation with senior NHS stakeholders, government and member NHS charities, we quickly went to work distributing funds to every NHS Trust and health board charity across the UK, and nearly £42 million was allocated across 243 NHS charities by the end of 2020.1

Projects funded through the first phase included 3,690 individual projects supporting mental health and wellbeing and 101 supporting quality of life for people with long-term health conditions. Report findings indicate that at least 1,641,808 people have benefitted, including:

  • 992,038 NHS staff
  • 565,119 NHS patients
  • 15,073 volunteers
  • 69,578 members of local communities

The funding was used for spaces including rest and wellbeing spaces for staff and patients (20%), equipment (20%), programmes and services (17%), digital resources (13%), education and training (12%), other wellbeing initiatives (9%), and social prescribing (3%).4

Amongst the thousands of staff support initiatives created was a project from Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity, who used funds to run a wellbeing support programme for staff, including counselling sessions and a health MOT screening nurse, above and beyond what the NHS was able to offer. Across the three-year programme, more than 400 staff had a one-to-one health check, around 4,300 staff had psychological health services (PHS) support, and 900 people used the 24/7 staff helpline each year.

Peter Moran, Respiratory Pathway Lead – Medicine at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust said:

“The impact of Covid-19 meant things were uncertain, scary and really tough. I became extremely stressed, struggled to see the wood for trees and worked late into the night. I knew it wasn’t sustainable, and it was so helpful to talk to someone. By supporting myself, I was in a better place to help my staff.”

This first progress report, shared at our National Conference in Birmingham (11th – 12th May 2023), showed almost all responding charities (98%) felt the first phase of grants had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of NHS staff, patients, volunteers and other beneficiary groups. And with so many projects ongoing, the results are continuing to make a vast difference at a time of immense pressure on the NHS – to date we have allocated over £148 million, with further impact analysis to come.

Subsequent phases of grant funding included a focus on community partnerships, bridging the gap between the voluntary and community sector and NHS services to tackle the wider determinants of ill health and reduce pressure on services. Further funding went towards projects that would support the long-term recovery of the NHS.

Lord Nigel Crisp KCB, former Chief Executive of NHS England and Patron of NHS Charities Together, said:

“Launched in March 2020, the Covid-19 Urgent Appeal saw hundreds of thousands of people support the NHS in their own unique ways. Thanks to their incredible generosity, NHS Charities Together has been able to fund thousands of projects across the UK helping the NHS workforce, patients and communities. This new report shows the incredible impact we have made together, during a phenomenally difficult time, and the continued difference that funding is making to UK healthcare today. And what’s even more exciting is that this is just the beginning, with more evaluation to come on the impact of this incredible appeal.”

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said:

“Over the last 75 years NHS charities have played an important role throughout all parts of the health system, and we are so proud of the difference we have made together. Never was this more needed than during the Covid crisis, when thanks to generous support from the public we were able to fund thousands of projects funded that have helped to support the health workforce, recruit volunteers to take pressure off the system, and help patients at an incredibly challenging time in their lives – and our combined impact has extended far beyond the hospital walls.

“Moving forward, we’re excited to see the continued impact NHS charities can make on the nation’s health – with our focus on transforming patient experience and outcomes, continuing to support workforce wellbeing, and helping people to live well.”

1 Insight in this report is based on the analysis of 190 responses (79% response rate) to a survey sent in August 2022 to all member charities that received funding through our Urgent Covid-19 Appeal.

2 The response to our survey suggests that projects funded through Urgent and Emergency Grants have supported a total of 1,641,808 people. This is an estimate based on data provided by the respondents. We have not validated their data or data-collection methods, however we are working with members to improve the robustness of insight into grant impact.

3 190 members have delivered 4,241 projects. As we funded 241 members, 4,241 projects is the minimum number of projects delivered. We continue to collect insight from members.

4 Funding was also used for ‘other’ subsistence (1%), ‘other’ not categorised activity, such as staff funeral costs (1%), ‘other’ recognition/reward (1%), ‘other’ EDI-related activity (1%), ‘other’ resources (<1%), ‘other’ research (<1%), ‘other’ staffing support or recruitment (<1%), and ‘other’ events (<1%).

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