Show support for local hospitals ‘Friends’ shops

Ill-informed, clumsy and ineffective outsourcing is not the sole preserve of local or central government. Here’s a local example from the health sector you might want to help challenge.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has offered the retail and catering facilities in its main entrances and receptions out to tender. This will allow major commercial enterprises to bid to provide these services. Small local charities will be competing against commercial caterers which have the resources and experience to handle the complex process of formal business tendering.


Please sign the petition to show support for the League of Friends’ shops at local hospitals.

The shops at St Richards, Worthing and Southlands are vitally important to the wellbeing of the hospitals. Not only do they generate considerable profit for the League of Friends charity (which funds various equipment and resources in the hospitals), the shop is also a lifeline for many patients. It is used by therapy teams with patients who need to begin to improve their function in normal everyday activities. For example, following a stroke, patients may need to practice the normal routine of using cash, or through speech and language therapy gain the confidence to order drinks in a public place again.

Making vast profits for commercial companies is not why people give their time to local voluntary causes. The League of Friends is a local charity that has worked for many years to support our hospitals. This news came to the Friends entirely out of the blue. There was no attempt to discuss or negotiate other options beforehand. The impact upon morale amongst volunteers has already been enormous.

In an NHS Trust which was graded as outstanding and commended by the CQC on its friendly atmosphere and passionate staff, the Friends and their shop are at the forefront of those attributes. If the shop and its services were to be replaced by corporate brands we will lose part of the local hospital heartbeat that makes us special.

The decision is doubly baffling as when Western Sussex Hospitals Trust was due to lose its Musculo-Skeletal services in 2014 after an unfair tendering process that saw commercial giant BUPA set to be awarded the contract, the League of Friends were one of the groups that publicly backed the Trust to retain the service in-house. It has now not taken long for that loyalty to be disregarded, and the Trust to put the League of Friends charity in the same position that they were in!

Please sign the petition here:

Public opinion: save the League of Friends across Southlands, Worthing and Chichester