Do charities really want to find cures?

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It really is a conundrum. Charities that support research into finding cures and treatments for particular diseases all seem to say that they want to end that illness, to beat it – finally. But, the question is, do they really?

Recently, some voices have been raised against certain of these charities for ignoring potential cures and continuing to be involved in research into new drug treatments; which means new sales and profits for pharmaceutical companies. Likewise, drug companies sell medicines. They get more money from treating illnesses than curing them.

It is hardly surprising that charities are seen as reluctant to find real cures that will put them out of business. You just need to look at the salaries paid to their chief executives.

Of course, similar comparisons can be done across research charities in various countries around the world but that would generate much more data that would, to my mind, make this post less attractive to read. Therefore, I chose just one country and, being British, that one is the UK.

As I have multiple sclerosis, let’s start with the MS Society in the UK. That, according to the last available annual accounts, ending December 31 2014, has seven employees whose salaries are in excess of £60,000 a year. Two of these are between £90,000 and £100,000 of which one, presumably, is chief executive Michelle Mitchell.

Other notable UK charities who are battling illnesses for which research is still needed include Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Kidney Research UK, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, Alzheimer’s research UK, Parkinson’s UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. There are, of course, many more; this is just an indicative sample.

The chief executives of these charities are paid these salaries, as itemised in their most recently available annual accounts: Cancer Research UK – up to £250,000; British Heart Foundation – £165,000; Parkinson’s UK – up to £120,000; Kidney Research UK – up to £110,000; Alzheimer’s Research UK – up to £100,000; Motor Neurone Disease Association – up to £99,999; and Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund – in excess of £60,000. Note: All ‘up to’ figures should be read as in a £10,000 up to the figure quoted.

Looking at those, mainly, six-figure salaries and you can see that the vocal protesters may have a point or two. It is all very well for a particular charity to be involved with discovering or testing new drugs. That means they can continue in the business of raising money and carry on paying themselves huge salaries.

Now, I am not suggesting that these salaries are not earned, far from it. If they want the best person for the job, they have to pay competitive salaries. But, in doing so, they have to be transparent in their dealings and be genuinely open to new therapies that could cure the particular disease they say that they are committed to defeating.

Nothing would please me more than seeing charities being wound up because cures had been found. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Do charities really want to find cures?

  1. Seems a bit ironic to criticise the MS Society when they gave you a grant to go on a cruise- which you have posted many blogs about.

    If you were really adamant that they should be doing all they can do find a cure, then your share of the money could have been given back to them to contribute to their research?

    I’m not saying you didn’t deserve to go on a cruise, far from it. If the MS Society offers the grants to help people with MS then it’s something you should do since it is there. It’s nice to be able to get away and have some time to relax.

    It might be a nice idea to talk about how you can apply for grant from the MS Society- I never even realised that they offered it.

    I agree that sometimes the salaries of people working in the charity sector seem high, then again you can’t expect people to work for free all the time. But also agree that for the best people to do the job you have to be willing to pay.

    And finally I think it would be marvellous to find cures for all the conditions

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    • I was just questioning how much of an incentive a wide variety of medical charities have to find cures for their illnesses, something that many people have voiced. I also did say that they have to pay the going rate for the job to get the right people. As a former MS Society branch secretary, I have no personal issues with grants given by the society for research or other things. Grants may also be obtained towards the cost of making necessary home adaptations or buying equipment.
      The grant I received was from the Short Breaks Fund that is administered by the grants department at the UK HQ in London. There are various criteria to meet and details of these can also be obtained from the grants team. The last I heard, the fund is under used and more applications would be welcome.

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