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This Leeds Charity is Making Healthcare Better for Everyone, But You Probably Don’t Even Know it Exists

· Ali Turner · Discussion

Leeds Cares is the charity no one knows about, but not for long!

Leeds Cares

Leeds Cares is the charity partner of Leeds Teaching Hospitals. From funding MR Scanners to supporting play specialists, they’re helping to make healthcare exceptional for everyone. Find out more…

Everyone knows the pressures the NHS is under, what you might not realise is that you can help ease the load…

When it was founded back in 1948, the NHS had one simple aim – to make good healthcare available to everyone. And though the world around it has changed beyond recognition, that founding principle is still at the heart of everything they do. As a nation, we’re incredibly lucky to have the NHS, but the challenges it faces are growing and statutory funding isn’t always the answer.

The charity working behind the scenes to support Leeds Teaching Hospitals

Leeds Cares

Credit: Nick Eagle

Before the NHS, healthcare was often funded by charity and philanthropic donations. In fact, our very own Leeds General Infirmary was founded by a group of subscribers who contributed themselves and took donations from inns and churches across the city. Nowadays, the NHS caters for all our healthcare needs, but what you might not realise is that it’s supported by a series of partner charities.

The best known is Great Ormond Street in London, but The Christie in Manchester and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool also have prominent partners. And believe it or not, we have one too. Leeds Cares is the dedicated charity for Leeds Teaching Hospitals, but unlike the others, it has a much broader reach.

You see, Leeds Teaching Hospitals is one of the biggest NHS Trusts in the country. As a centre of excellence, it provides over 100 specialist services. It’s got one of the biggest children’s hospitals in the UK and the Leeds Cancer Centre offers some of the most advanced treatments anywhere in the world. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, from transplant services to heart surgery and emergency care, Leeds is at the forefront of healthcare in the UK. So rather than focusing on just one service, Leeds Cares supports them all.

Together we can overcome the challenges facing the NHS

Leeds Cares

Credit: Nick Eagle

Technology is changing at a rapid pace, and that’s great, because it’s helping us to live longer, healthier lives, but it’s also creating an ageing population that’s putting extra strain on the NHS. We’re living longer, we’re surviving cancer, strokes and heart attacks, we’re proof that the healthcare system is working – but we now need more care over a longer time, and that inevitably costs more and puts more pressure on the NHS.

As Aneurin Bevan, Minister for Health from 1945-51 and chief architect of the NHS, once said, “We shall never have all we need. Expectations will always exceed capacity. The service must always be changing, growing and improving. It must always appear inadequate.” When it comes to the NHS, we’ll always want more than we can have – which is why Leeds Cares was created, to support Leeds Teaching Hospitals in their mission to become the NHS they aspire to be.

“There’s nothing wrong with what the NHS is doing now, on the contrary, they’re doing amazingly,” David Welch, CEO of Leeds Cares explained. “The staff are phenomenal, every single one of them goes above and beyond. People are saving lives and changing lives every day, but the additional support that comes from the community will make sure standards are maintained as new technologies are developed and new ways of doing things are adopted. We’re trying to make sure it’s the best it can be.”

You’d never know it, but it’s already made a huge difference

Once you hear what they’ve done, you’ll wonder why you’ve never heard of them before. Leeds Cares was instrumental in bringing a new Hybrid Cardiac Theatre and Intra-Operative 3T MRI Scanner facility to Leeds. MRI imaging has revolutionised the way we diagnose and treat brain and spine tumours, so this will make a real difference to the lives of patients. Leeds Cares contributed £1.85 million and helped to secure the rest of the funding that made the £11 million project possible. That’s an important part of what they do here, they don’t just raise money, they co-ordinate funding applications, so healthcare providers can focus on what they do best – taking care of patients.

And that’s just one example. Leeds Cares helped fund the Play Specialists and Therapists at Leeds Children’s Hospital. This team of 29 workers use play and music to help kids cope with scary experiences. For example, if they need radiotherapy, their play therapist will introduce them to their model radiotherapy machine, show them what will happen when they have their treatment and even paint them a custom mask – who wants to be Batman?

They’ve also helped to establish Leeds Children’s Clinical Research Facility, a research centre designed to make kids feel comfortable while they take part in ground-breaking clinical trials. And now they’re raising £2.4 million for a new MR Simulator that will transform cancer treatment for thousands of people across Yorkshire. The success of radiotherapy is dependent on the accuracy of the imaging, so the move from CT scans to a more precise MR will help to reduce the impact on normal cells and target cancerous ones.

So how can you get involved?

Leeds Cares

Credit: David Lindsay

There are loads of ways you can contribute. From one-off donations to legacy gifts in your will and corporate partnerships, they welcome any and all help you can give. But if you want to do more, give them shout – you could organise a coffee morning, do a sponsored walk or even have a go at parachuting, all for a great cause.

You can choose where your money goes, so if the Leeds Children’s Hospital is close to your heart, you can make sure your donation goes directly to them, but if you don’t have a preference, they’ll spend it where it’s needed most. And because day-to-day running costs are so low, nearly 90% of donations go straight back to helping the hospitals.

You may not have to pay for the NHS, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support it – and that’s what Leeds Cares is all about. If we come together as a community, we can make Leeds Teaching Hospitals exceptional. We can drive innovation, improve quality of care and save lives – who wouldn’t want to do that?