Shropshire Star

What a drag: Shropshire health bosses TURN DOWN £2,500 charity cash raised by men dressed as women nurses

Health bosses in Shropshire have turned down a £2,500 donation - because they were unhappy that the money was raised by men dressed as female nurses.

Fundraisers on 2016's Ludlow Bed Push

Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust has for the first time refused money raised from the annual Ludlow Bed Push, an event held in the south Shropshire town for about 20 years.

The event involves a team of men in nurse-themed drag who run around the town collecting money every June – in recent years without a bed as modern medical beds are too hi-tech and valuable to wheel around the streets.

But this year Jan Ditheridge, chief executive of the trust, has said she is not comfortable with how the event portrays medical staff and has turned down the money.

The trust is responsible for the management of Ludlow Hospital.

Peter Corfield, chairman of the League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital, has criticised Ms Ditheridge's refusal of about £2,500 raised, calling it an "over-reaction".

But Ms Ditheridge said she could not longer support the bed push.

She said: “It isn’t okay to portray healthcare professionals in this way. We have previously asked that this doesn't happen and therefore don't think it's right to accept any money associated with this activity.

“I'm sure the event was organised with the best intentions and we are sorry if it's made people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.

“Many people kindly and selflessly raise money for our organisation, and especially for our hospitals. We are eternally grateful for that," she said.

The bed push was the idea of Howard Watkins, lifetime president of the League of Friends.

Long-time chairman Mr Corfield said: "We have not had one single complaint about this event from members of the public.

"The bed push has over the years raised a substantial amount of money and the lads who do it are great supporters of the hospital.

"I need to talk to the lads who do this because it is effectively casting aspersions on their character.

"What Ms Ditheridge doesn't seem to be aware of is that the bed push was originally set up with the full co-operation of the hospital staff and has been happening in the town for about 18 to 20 years.

"Hospital staff have been involved with doing their make-up and, in the days when we actually pushed a bed around town, a member of staff was sometimes the person in the bed.

"I think it's an over-reaction to say that they will not accept the money.

"The money raised had already been earmarked and approved for the purchase of an ECG machine and we are now withdrawing that funding as per the diktat.

"Rather than cause further embarrassment, we will not be offering that money again," he said.