Shropshire Star

Ludlow Bed Push drag nurses row: MP Philip Dunne calls for U-turn over £2,500 raised

Ludlow MP and health minister Philip Dunne has written to hospital bosses urging them to accept money raised by men in nurse drag.

Some of the Ludlow bed push 'nurses'. Inset: Philip Dunne MP.

Mr Dunne said the trust that runs Ludlow Hospital should reconsider its refusal of £2,500 raised by the annual Ludlow Bed Push – and revealed he himself donated money to the fundraisers in drag on the day.

But Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust today stuck to its guns and said it has not changed its mind in turning down the money.

Jan Ditheridge, chief executive of the trust, commonly referred to as ShropCom, previously said the men's costumes were "over-sexualised", "demeaning" and "insulting to the profession". She said she had asked the hospital's League of Friends group in 2016 that fundraising with such costumes should not happen again.

In a formal letter responding to queries on the issue by Ludlow town councillor Jim Smithers, Mr Dunne said the request did not appear to have been made formally, and it was not made clear that the money would be refused this year.

He said: "I have written to the chief executive of ShropCom to express my surprise that after so many years of receiving donations raised in this way, that she did not write formally in advance of this year's fundraising, nor immediately following receipt of last year's donation raised in a similar way, to indicate to the League of Friends ShropCom's strength of view and intent to decline future donations raised in this way.

"Had they done so, I am sure the fundraisers would have had time to respond to raise money without causing such apparent offence.

"I have suggested that the trust might be able to see their way to accepting this donation this year but to give notice, in the way I have described, if they do not wish to do so again. It is a matter for ShropCom to decide whether to take donations or not.

"As it happens, I made a donation to the fundraisers on the day, to support their fundraising efforts for such a worthy cause."

A petition calling for the money to be accepted has also now reached 5,400 signatures.

But Chloe Ellis, speaking for the trust, said the decision regarding the donation had not changed.

She said: “We would once again like to express our sincere gratitude to all fundraisers who support our organisation, including the League of Friends. We are sorry for the distress this has caused for some people, as this was never our intention.

"We understand that people want to make sure patients are well provided for. We can assure you that no patient has been compromised or gone without because we declined to be part of this particular event."