The suspension of our regular grant-making
As a result of the current Covid 19 pandemic, our charity, The Hospital Saturday Fund, and our trading arm, HSF Health Plan, have both undergone considerable changes in the past few weeks.
Unfortunately, the Trustees of our charity have had to make the difficult decision to suspend our grant-making for the foreseeable future. We do hope that by autumn we will be able to resume this activity, which is our primary aim and about which we are passionate.
The driving force behind this decision is that The Hospital Saturday Fund requires financial backing from HSF Health Plan (which is a type of medical insurance company). At this time, our Trustees feel that is it of the upmost importance to retain as much solvency within the group as possible, to support the Insurance Company during this crisis. It has also been acknowledged that our normal ‘hands on’ approach to assessing grants by visiting charities is clearly not feasible at present.
By suspending our grant-making, we are able to focus solely on supporting our HSF Health Plan customers when they need us most. Prioritising the information on our services and the accessibility of our platforms has been a significant focus. Firstly, we have increased our digital content provision and, secondly, we have supplied ‘editable’ claim and application forms for existing and prospective policyholders.
The Hospital Saturday Fund Covid 19 Grant
Following a review, the Trustees have decided to establish the Hospital Saturday Fund Covid 19 Grant in response to the current crisis. We are unable to accept applications for this grant, rather we will target and approach those charities in the UK and Ireland that we feel are particularly affected by Corona virus.
As anticipated, our HSF Assist Service, which offers Advice Helplines, including over the phone counselling and GP access, has encountered a spike in demand. Due to this, our supplier has extended their GP capacity by an extra 20%, in order to maintain the provision of effective support and service.
Internally, our priority has been to keep our workforce informed and up to date on board and management decisions, with our chief executive, Paul Jackson, and managing director, Paul Clare, holding frequent meetings to address all staff. Unfortunately, due to the reduction in our normal workloads across the charity and trading company, we have had to place nearly 50% of our employees on furlough.
The implications of this pandemic stretch far beyond the points mentioned above. As a business we are conscious of and concerned about the fast approaching deadline signifying the end of the Brexit transition period. The overseas regulators with whom we have been liaising are all under lockdown, so very little is happening with the applications we have made towards our Ireland Insurance Branch.
Despite these delays, HSF still has to meet the extremely stringent solvency margins which are, of course, much more difficult to reach at present due to the collapse in world stock markets. With the stresses caused by the current crisis, it is an immense challenge to continue to meet the strict timeframe laid down for Brexit.
It is hard to understand why, during these extraordinary times, organisations like HSF, are still required to meet such a tight Brexit timeframe.