WITH the NHS celebrating its 70th birthday, a hospital charity has another cause for celebration after it reached a key milestone in a fundraising appeal.

The NHS officially marked its seventh decade yesterday (Thursday).

And ELHT&Me, the official charity for East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, has thanked public, patients and staff for their generosity as fundraising donations for its £1 million appeal have soared to £250,000 in a just a few months since it was launched.

The appeal aims to raise funds to invest in new equipment and improve facilities at the trust’s five hospitals.

It also aims to ‘enhance the patient environment’ at ELHT’s five hospitals – Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Teaching hospitals and community hospitals Accrington Victoria, Clitheroe and Pendle.

The appeal will also focus on improvements that are ‘over and above’ normal NHS provision, such as specialised medical equipment and better patient facilities.

This includes defibrillators used at Royal Blackburn and Burnley hospitals to revive patients when they have a cardiac arrest.

Events held so far include fitness fundraisers such as the Rotary Club of Church and Oswaldtwistle’s Walk 4 Your Charity and the Ribble Valley Ride.

Christine Hughes, director of communications and engagement, paid tribute to the NHS for ‘transforming the health and wellbeing of the nation and becoming the envy of the world.’

She said:“And helping behind the scenes are dedicated NHS charities, including our own official East Lancashire Hospitals charity, ELHT&Me and our £1 Million Appeal.”

“There’s never been a better time for the public to show how much they value our most cherished national institution.”

Hundreds of contributions both large and small have been received as the appeal surpasses expectations to show how much the NHS means to the people of East Lancashire.

Ms Hughes said: “It has been truly humbling to see the appeal raise this huge amount of money so quickly.

“Our thanks and gratitude go to all those who have raised funds or made donations, as well as those who have given their time to support their local hospital charity, ELHT&Me.”

Since February, a number of wards, departments and clinics have benefitted from fundraising efforts, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Chemotherapy Units at Blackburn and Burnley hospitals, and the Children’s Ward at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital.

She added: “The aim of the ELHT&Me £1 Million Appeal is to create better hospitals for all by raising much-needed funds to make more improvements right across the Trust.

“This will see improvements for children and babies’ health, supporting cancer patients, improving equipment, making patient areas more friendly, and improving the whole patient experience.”

Events which have taken place to celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday include tea parties and iconic buildings and landmarks being lit up blue across the North West of England.