• Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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King’s charity faces repayment demand over unfulfilled NHS clinic

Indian government contributed £110,000 to the King’s Foundation to implement an ‘Ayush’ centre

FILE PHOTO: King Charles greets Narendra Modi ahead of their bilateral meeting during the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) on November 1, 2021 in Glasgow. (Photo by Jane Barlow – Pool/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE King’s charity, formerly the Prince’s Foundation, is under scrutiny as it is compelled to return £110,000 to the Indian government.

The funds were earmarked for an NHS alternative medicine clinic championed by Charles, which never materialised. The proposed clinic, aimed at integrating Indian traditional medicine into the UK’s healthcare system, failed to gain approval from the National Health Service (NHS), reported The Sunday Times.

In April 2018, Prince Charles, now the King, joined forces with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to unveil plans for an ‘Ayush’ centre at St Charles Hospital in Kensington, London.

The initiative, encompassing Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, and homeopathy, was intended to be a landmark project, with the Indian government contributing £110,000 to the King’s Foundation for its implementation.

However, the NHS, responsible for St Charles Hospital, never endorsed the project. Despite initial talks, the proposed collaboration did not progress, and the clinic failed to materialise.

According to the west London clinical commissioning group (CCG), which oversaw the hospital at the time, there was no official involvement, and discussions ceased in 2020.

Under charity law, funds designated for a specific project cannot be diverted without donor permission and regulatory approval. The King’s Foundation has acknowledged the need to return the remaining budget to the Indian government but has not disclosed when this decision was made or why the funds were not promptly returned.

The initiative faced opposition from the NHS, as a year before the clinic’s launch, NHS England’s CEO Simon Stevens had issued guidance discouraging the prescription of homeopathy and herbal remedies, citing their limited efficacy and misuse of NHS funds.

The unveiling ceremony, held at the Science Museum in April 2018, included Charles praising alternative treatments and expressing his commitment to establishing Ayush centres.

Video footage surfaced recently, revealing Charles’ endorsement and Modi’s tweet highlighting the event to his vast Twitter following.

Despite the failed project, connections between key figures persist. Dr Michael Dixon, a vocal advocate for homeopathy and now head of the royal medical household, played a significant role in finalising agreements with the Indian government. Dixon’s involvement with Charles dates back to the closure of Charles’s Foundation for Integrated Health in 2010.

The King’s Foundation defended its actions, stating that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project shifted online, resulting in reduced costs. They claim to have contacted the Indian government for the return of unused funds, emphasising that the money remains in a restricted account.

As the controversy unfolds, questions arise about the intersections between alternative medicine advocacy, royal endorsements, and international collaborations within the context of public healthcare, the report further said.

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