It is with much sadness I have to report the death of one our longest and most supportive Trustees, John Carvey. As many will know his work with the League of Friends was but one of many organisations he worked tirelessly to help. He always attended meetings, helped out with events and always contributed wise helpful words of advice, he will be missed very much.

Naomi Hill has decided it is time to ‘step back’ and after countless years of dedicated service to the LoF has decided to retire as a Trustee. We all owe her a huge debt of gratitude and wish her well for the future.

The work of the LoF’s continues of course, and this year we have donated more than we received in funding. We are a charity and have a statutory duty to donate, not act like a Bank! The increasing demands on the NHS, mean we have more relevance than ever. So we have to think of more imaginative ways to donate. We are reaching out to other groups who visit the hospital, for example the Hospice Team from St. Wilfrids. We have always been aware that the LoF Charity is targeted at the health and well-being of the population of Uckfield. Naturally most of our attention has been directed at the Community Hospital, but we have perhaps neglected General Practice. In reality most people will have more to do with their GP than the hospital. So we have written to the GPs who support Uckfield to see if they need any support. We hope this will attract some interest and we can be of some help.

There is also no doubt the effect of the Covid pandemic has reduced the opportunities to meet with the community and hence their opportunities to donate. So it is important to be vigilant about fundraising and like most charities we have seen a reduction in our income. Hopefully we can ride out this storm.

Inevitably we keep a close eye on the activity of the hospital. Sadly we do see some fragmentation and reduction of activity. We see this as a missed opportunity by the NHS which is desperately short of beds and operating facilities. It has of course been adversely affected by the workforce crisis, partly short term by the effects of Covid. There has also been under-investment in training and recruitment of all health care workers over the last 10-12 years. The tidal wave of demand is now reflecting the well recognised demographic changes caused by the ageing of the ‘baby boomers’. It seems it was obvious to everyone except the politicians, whose lives revolve around the 4-year cycle of elections. We remain concerned by the lack of overall “ownership” of the hospital, and despite things like the Integrated Care Board which is supposed to look at all aspects of care, little attention seems to be paid to developing a strategy for the hospital.

Despite these dark days the LoF continues to flourish and particular thanks go to our Hon Sec Linda Kenward who has injected a lot of energy and hard work into the role. Similarly Chris Bendall has worked enormously hard tidying up loose ends and putting the accounts on to a digital footing. I am also pleased to report two new Trustees have been appointed, Louise Henderson and Louise Bage, both of whom have an active involvement in health care, and we are looking forward to their energy and ideas.