Shropshire Star

Star comment: Saying no to funds is plain daft

The silly season is upon us. But few would have imagined cash-strapped health bosses would be so silly as to turn down a donation of £2,500 to purchase a life-saving ECG machine.

Fundraisers on 2016's Ludlow Bed Push

Yet that is the position of Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, which has rejected a donation from volunteers at the Ludlow Bed Push.

The trust is offended that the fun-loving bed pushers include men in drag. And so, rather than politely thanking them for the cash, the chief executive has made what many would consider a remarkable decision, to turn down the money. Apparently, the trust’s sensibilities are offended by men with beards wearing dresses and tights.

It is not just the rejected money that is important. By cold-shouldering fundraisers, the hospital risks alienating itself from the community. It is out of step with the common mood and this could affect the amount of support it will receive from well wishers.

The notion that right-thinking people are offended by fancy dress is just plain daft. Every weekend around the county, men dress as women and women dress as men. People wear animal costumes, dress as firemen and vicars, nurses and worse.

Last weekend’s Edgbaston Test Match, for instance, featured thousands of people dressing up – some men dressed as brides: ought they to have been barred? No, of course not. Rather than cause offence to unnecessarily straight-laced and puritanical types, those men brought entertainment and mirth to millions on Sky and BBC. They were doing no harm, they were simply having fun.

And so were the men who dressed as nurses and collected £2,500 for the Ludlow Hospital. Had they walked around in business suits or tracksuits, people might not have been so charitable. The volume of donations may well have been less for they would not have brought smiles while acting in a good cause.

There are times when decisions seem overly PC; and there are times when things get out of hand and stray into offensive. The bed push is not one of these.

Rather than castigating people willing to give up time by entertaining the public and collecting money, health chiefs ought to encourage them, thank them, be gracious and spend the money wisely. It could save lives.