The outgoing chairman of the Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust has praised the enthusiasm and professionalism of his fellow trustees.
After almost 20 years as a trustee, the last five as chairman, Larry Keenan has decided to step down from the Trust. He explained that having been involved with various charities throughout his career he understood the importance of ensuring ‘fresh blood’ was brought in to maintain energy and determination.
Advocate Mr Keenan said: ‘I have been with the Trust for many years now and have found the work to be fascinating, demanding and rewarding. I feel the time is right to step aside and make room for new trustees and a new chairman to inspire the Trust to help further improve the health and wellbeing of the people in the Isle of Man.
‘I have been honoured to work with a great bunch of trustees over the years. They are very enthusiastic people who have worked hard and been a pleasure to serve alongside. They have brought forward ideas and given real professional scrutiny to how Trust funds are used to ensure real benefits for the Island.’
Reflecting on his almost two decades with the Trust, Mr Keenan said the most significant development had come in 2002 when a successful petition to the High Court allowed the Trust to broaden its support for health initiatives.
He explained: ‘The Trust was formally established as a body corporate in 1909, but with the specific remit of supporting the Isle of Man’s hospital, which was named after Noble. Obviously, this limited the scope of the Trust’s work, and we were keen to be able to do more to support advances in healthcare outside the setting of Noble’s Hospital. Following the successful petition, the Trust was able to fund community health projects, care-at-home schemes, medical training, public health education as well as the purchase of specific equipment to improve diagnosis and treatment. ‘It was a hugely significant step for the Trust.’
Mr Keenan became a trustee in the 1990s after being volunteered for the role by the late Deemster Henry Callow. He was appointed chairman five years ago, taking over from the late Bob Dowty.
Over the years the Trust has considered many applications for support, and donated huge sums to improve the healthcare of people across the Island. A substantial contribution was made to Hospice Isle of Man to assist with the building of children’s hospice Rebecca House, and funds were also given to the construction of a dedicated breast care unit.
The Trust’s support has also help fund equipment as diverse as special surgical tools to improve orthopaedic care, an all-terrain vehicle for the farm managed by The Children’s Centre and a new ambulance for the Red Cross. There has also been funding for healthcare education in schools, professional training and the Trust is currently funding the development of a pilot programme in partnership with Noble’s Hospital for the use of telemedicine.
Mr Keenan said: ‘The health service has its own carefully managed budget, and there are some items that cannot be funded from that budget. We encourage healthcare professionals to approach us with projects and initiatives which need additional funding and which will deliver real results. We require a well-prepared business case, and scrutinise each application to ensure a real need has been identified, that the equipment or training will actually be put to use and there is a real benefit to patients. That is what the Trust is about; improving patient care. Whatever we fund must be about prevention of illness, improved treatments, faster recovery, better outcomes and providing care for people in the appropriate setting, be it hospital, a care home or their own house.
‘Personally, I think that anything that means we can deliver more services here in the Isle of Man is better for patients, and better for the Island. Having to travel off-Island for tests and treatment not only costs the health service a significant amount, it can also be distressing to some patients, to be away from family and familiar surroundings. It can also be inconvenient – busy people don’t want to lose a day of work to attend a 10-minute appointment in the UK.
‘A great deal of the work the Trust has done in recent years has contributed to helping more people stay on the Island for diagnosis and treatment, and I’m pleased the telemedicine pilot is being taken forward, as this will further reduce the need for off-Island travel while giving access to medical expertise from around the world.
‘Of course, there is much more that could be done, but I hope during my time as a trustee, the Trust has made a difference.’
He added: ‘I would still like to see much more invested in mental health training, that is something the Trust has pushed for. There is a need for more people to have a better understanding of mental health issues, not just in the medical profession but also in other areas, such as among lawyers who may have to attend mental health tribunals with little or no experience. I also believe the Island should have its own cancer radiography centre of excellence – this would again reduce the need for patients to travel off-Island, and could actually see health services outside the Isle of Man sending patients here.
‘If I have any regret it is that there is much more that can be done. There are technological and scientific advances coming every day which could massively improve patient care and I feel a frustration for those who could be helped but aren’t because the equipment or expertise simply aren’t available here. However, I know I leave a strong and determined Trust which will continue to seek to address this.’
The current trustees are Terry Groves, Larry Kearns, Malcolm Clague, Sheila Dean, John Greenwood, Trudi Williamson, Alex Allinson and Helen Booth.
The Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust relies on donations and bequests from the public. If you would like to support the Trust, visit the website www.hbnhealthcaretrust.org.im, email email@example.com or call 616108.