Sarah Reilly, Head of Income Generation at the Patients Association

You may not already know that the Patients Association is a registered charity. And it is unique in what it does – working with patients directly, as our members and supporters, and bringing their voices together to campaign for change. Not condition or organ specific, we focus on the whole person and their experience of health or social care.

We started out in the 1960s, acting as the voice of patients in response to the events surrounding the prescription of Thalidomide to expectant mothers, and we have continued to do this ever since.

However, with public trust in charities being shaken again this week, we know we must work hard both to earn and maintain the trust and the continued support of our members and donors. We want to be transparent about where our money comes from and clear about how the money you give us is being spent to further our charitable work.

So, where does our money come from?

Firstly, maintaining our ability to be an independent critical friend to health and social care services means we do not accept core funding from the Government. We do, however, undertake project work alongside, and funded or co-funded by, partners including NHS England, various NHS Foundation Trusts, and other partners including grant-making Trusts and Foundations. Each project seeks to further our charitable mission which is to give effect to the patient voice, to improve patient experience and support people to engage fully in their own care.

Secondly, we benefit from the support of our corporate members. These are sponsors largely from the pharmaceutical industry who give money from their corporate social responsibility budgets or offer educational grants for the advancement of our work and to help support the costs of running the helpline. It is extremely important to us that we maintain our independence, so while we are very grateful that the financial support enables us to continue our charitable work, there are strict codes of practice which mean that our corporate members cannot influence any of our work or decision making.

Thirdly, and extremely importantly, we are supported by donations and subscriptions from our individual members and supporters. Many supporters feel compelled to give back to us following an interaction with our helpline, and others become members or donors because they believe passionately in supporting improvements in health and social care for the benefit of all patients.

This year for the first time we are also embarking on some small-scale fundraising activities, offering our supporters another way to get involved in supporting our work. We have secured places in the Great North Run – the world’s largest Half Marathon event which takes place in Newcastle Upon Tyne in September. If you’d be interested in raising money for the Patients Association through running in this event, contact us to find out about how to secure one of our places.

And how do we spend the money?

There are three core elements of our work: Helpline, Policy and Projects. The donations we receive help to pay for the helpline advisers who answer patients’ calls and offer them advice and support, they pay for the project managers who deliver training and run focus groups, surveys and projects to enable us to learn from patient experience, and they pay for the costs involved in running our campaigns, including policy staff and the costs of running our website (although this new site has been developed thanks to a grant from the Transform Foundation).

We are a small organisation, with only seven full time and three part-time members of staff. We are supported by volunteers in our main office, as Ambassadors in the community and as our board of Trustees. We also have access to freelance project managers who do some great work and provide additional capacity when we need it. We aim to keep our costs as low as possible, whilst ensuring that we can make the greatest impact within our limited resources.

Do you want to know more?

Our most recent annual report and accounts are available via the charity commission here.

You can see a full list of our corporate members here

Find out about our other supporters here

Find out about individual membership here

Click here to make a donation