Director of New Pyjamas suspended ahead of finance investigation


Elaine McGonigle (left) with Jack McConnell and George Foulkes at a New Pyjama event at the Parliament last November

By Cara Sulieman

THE director of a fundraising campaign has been suspended while the chairman has resigned amid concerns about how much money the initiative has raised.

Elaine McGonigle has been suspended from the New Pyjamas Campaign for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh ahead of crisis talks with NHS Lothian due to take place tomorrow (Wednesday).

Chairman Graeme Millar has also stepped down from his position.

NHS Lothian Chairman, Dr Charles Winstanley, said the health board called an emergency summit after expressing their “deep concern” when brought up to date on how much had been raised.

The Sick Kids Friends Foundation said they were beginning an “urgent review” of the fundraising campaign.

“Deep concern”

A source close to the campaign confirmed that Ms Mcgonigle had been suspended and that Mr Millar had resigned.

The high profile campaign – launched last February – has enjoyed backing from people such as former First Minister Jack McConnell and Life Peer Lord Foulkes.

New Pyjamas hopes to raise £15m for new hospital at Little France to pay for top-class equipment and research facilities outwith standard NHS budgets.

The Sick Kids is due to move from its current site in Sciennes in 2013.

Already, the campaign has announced it will be funding a drop-in centre at the £150m hospital and help to provide a family hotel so that relatives can stay nearby as the children undergo treatment.

NHS Lothian chairman Dr Charles Winstanley said: “When we were recently informed by the Sick Kids Friends Foundation about the level of funding raised by the New Pyjamas Campaign we expressed our deep concern.

“We asked them to brief us as a matter of urgency on their plans to meet their fundraising commitment to the new hospital.

“We had already agreed to meet them on Wednesday to discuss this.

“NHS Lothian would be concerned at any suggestion public donations made in support of our new children’s hospital may have been used for another purpose.”

“Working closely”

A spokesman for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation said: “The Sick Kids Friends Foundation has begun an urgent review of key aspects of the fundraising campaign for the new hospital following concerns that current income levels do not meet agreed targets.

“The Foundation is committed to taking action to deliver a successful fundraising campaign that will benefit children throughout Scotland.

“We are working closely with NHS Lothian in moving forward.”

Graeme Millar is the chairman of recruitment agency Fletcher Jones. Today (Wednesday) their Edinburgh office said they were unable to give out contact details for him.