Nuffield Health is a charity
People are often surprised to learn that Nuffield Health is a charity. In fact, we are Britain’s largest healthcare charity and one of the biggest charities of any kind.
When people think of a charity, they don’t usually think of large, professional organisations, particularly those operating in health.
Here we have attempted to answer some of the questions that we’re often asked about our charitable status.
What does it mean that Nuffield Health is a charity?
To be a charity, an organisation must have purposes which are charitable in law and are for the public benefit.
The Charities Act 2006 recognises a number of charitable purposes, including the advancement of health or the saving of lives.
Nuffield Health’s charitable purposes are (in brief):
To advance, promote and maintain health and health care of all descriptions and to prevent, relieve and cure sickness and ill health of every kind.
To fulfil our charitable aims we provide services to help people get healthy and stay healthy, to understand and manage their personal health risks, and to get timely diagnosis and treatment for any problems which arise.
As a charity, Nuffield Health must operate on a not-for-profit basis, and may not distribute profits to shareholders. It also means that our assets are locked in perpetuity to be used for charitable purposes.
We are regulated by the Charities Commission to ensure that we maintain the proper standards of conduct and accountability.
A Registered Charity Number: 205533 (England & Wales), a Charity Registered in Scotland Number: SC041793 and a Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England Number 576970.
What do I get out of Nuffield Health being a charity?
Nuffield Health exists to provide beneficial services to the public, rather than to make money for shareholders.
Most importantly, this means that the customer comes first. Nuffield Health is all about you and your health, not about making money.
Nuffield Health aims to make a financial surplus each year which is re-invested to improve services for patients. This allows us to grow and add new services, to reach new people, and to set ever higher standards for safety and customer experience.
We’re also independent of government so we can make our own decisions about how to provide the best possible services for you without political interference.
Who decides who can be a charity?
Charities must be registered with and are regulated by the Charity Commission in England and Wales or the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in Scotland.
Following a recent change of law, charities that are registered in England and Wales but have operations in Scotland must apply for dual registration.
Nuffield Health is registered as a charity in England with the Charity Commission and is currently applying for registration in Scotland with OSCR.
Could Nuffield Health stop being a charity?
No, we couldn’t. Legally it isn’t an option for any charity to give up charitable status to become a profit making business. Having been established as a charity, Nuffield Health must remain a charity and its assets can be used only for charitable purposes.
Nuffield Health is proud of its charitable status and would never want to stop being a charity. We believe that providing health and healthcare to the public as a charity is the right thing to do.
Is Nuffield a charity or a business?
Nuffield Health combines the social values of being a charity with the best disciplines of business in order to maximise its benefit to the public.
Our customers have the right to expect high standards of professional service delivered in the best facilities, but we think they also appreciate that the people delivering those services do so with the care and passion that comes with working for a health charity.
We are in a unique position to challenge the status quo, anticipate and adapt quickly to emerging needs, and seek better ways of doing things for our customers.
Where does Nuffield Health get its income?
Most of our income comes from charges for the services we provide. Sometimes fees are charged directly to the beneficiary, for example with membership of a Fitness & Wellbeing Centre or for self-pay treatments in hospital, but often fees are paid or subsidised by insurance companies, employers or the NHS.
Although we charge fees for our services, any surplus that we make is reinvested into improved services and facilities.
In addition to being independent of government and free from shareholders, charging fees rather than receiving grants or donations means that we are also not dependent on major donors; we can operate in the way that we think is best based on what our customers tell us.
Nuffield Health was founded in 1957 (originally as the Nursing Homes Charitable Trust) with money donated by the major provident associations of the time, and several of our hospitals were founded with the help of donations from the local community. Lord Nuffield acted as guarantor to a loan which helped us get started and later lent us his name, but he was not an original benefactor.
For the first 30 years or so we had a fundraising department and actively sought donations, but that was wound up in the early 1990s as it became clear that the rising costs of modern medicine were too expensive to be met in this way and we moved to recovering the full cost of services through fees.
How can Nuffield Health be a charity when it charges fees?
Nuffield Health charges fees for its services in order to be able to provide those services, not to make profits for shareholders. If we could provide all of our services for free then we would, but unfortunately that is not realistic.
Charities are allowed to charge fees for their services, but must ensure that by charging those fees they do not entirely exclude any sections of society, including those in poverty, from the opportunity to benefit.
The fees charged by Nuffield Health vary from a few pounds for a healthy swim to thousands of pounds for complex and often life-saving operations.
For treatment in hospital, some people have access to insurance schemes which help to spread the cost and ensure access to even very expensive medical help should the need arise. Sometimes this is subsidised or even paid for by employers.
In recent years we have also worked extensively with the NHS, acting as a provider of NHS services to support the policy of patient choice or enabling NHS organisations to provide more or better care. NHS care is always provided free to patients, and NHS patients receive the same standard of care and accommodation as private patients. Unfortunately, we cannot provide all of our services through the NHS and availability is limited.