Backlash over NHS gift from Scientologists

The Argus, UK/November 11, 2017

By Ben James

A donation of £50,000 from the Church of Scientology to an NHS hospital has been heavily criticised.

Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) is based in East Grinstead, where the US-based church has its UK headquarters.

Former Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb was furious about the donation.

He said: “It is completely inappropriate for an NHS trust to accept funds from this organisation.”

The QVH, which is renowned for its reconstructive surgery and care for burns sufferers, previously turned down a donation from the church in 1994.

A hospital spokeswoman confirmed its official charity had received the £50,000 from members of the church in October.

She said: “The decision to accept this donation has been considered in the context of all relevant guidelines.

“As with all donations, it will be included in the QVH charity accounts which are submitted to the Charity Commission.”

The Church of Scientology was founded by American science fiction author L Ron Hubbard.

He moved to Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead in the 1950s.

The church has seen a number of famous endorsements over the years by major Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, who say it is a force for good.

However former members have described the religious group as a ‘brainwashing cult’ and claim it preys on insecure and mentally ill people.

However the church itself strongly denies these allegations.

Mr Lamb said his particular concern was about the impact of the church’s activities on people’s mental health.

He said: “Their secrecy and their refusal to be challenged or questioned is deeply disturbing.

“It’s a sign of the intense pressure that the NHS is under that this trust decided to reverse its policy of not accepting donations.”

The Department of Health said trusts managed their own resources. Queen Victoria is also a foundation trust which gives it greater freedom from the department.

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