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The King’s Fund’s links with colonialism and slavery

The King's Fund was formed in 1897 as an initiative of the then Prince of Wales to raise money to support London’s hospitals. Several of the individuals and organisations who donated money and helped to establish The King’s Fund were linked with colonialism and slavery through their family backgrounds and business connections.

As a result, our organisation and the endowment we draw on today to fund our charitable activities are in part founded on the profits of exploitation and the legacy of colonialism and the slave trade. This legacy is evident in the glaring inequalities we see across society today. Within the health and care system, we have seen this play out in the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people from ethnic minority backgrounds, evidence of systemic racism reinforcing inequalities, people from ethnic minority backgrounds having a worse experience of health and care services, and NHS staff from ethnic minority backgrounds experiencing discrimination. 

It is important for us to acknowledge these historical injustices and their current day impact and to make a commitment to addressing them. In 2022, we published the statement below recognising these historical links and in May 2023 we published this action plan which sets out the start of our work to redress the historical injustices that our privilege is built on. 

Our 2022 statement

The legacy of slavery, colonialism and exploitation is evident in the inequalities we see today. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on some ethnic minority groups and the Black community in particular. Evidence shows that systemic racism reinforces inequalities and can have a negative impact on the health of ethnic minority communities. The health and care system continues to deliver a worse experience for people from Black and ethnic minority groups and poorer outcomes in some areas of care. NHS staff from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds also continue to be discriminated against and to experience high levels of bullying, harassment and abuse from colleagues and patients.  

This is unacceptable. The knowledge we have of our origins, the link between slavery and colonialism and the inequalities experienced by Black and ethnic minority groups today, and the impact of this on our own staff from these communities adds to our responsibility to address these issues in our work.   

We are stepping up our work to tackle health inequalities, including ethnic inequalities, and to promote diversity and inclusion within our own organisation.  

We know we have more work to do and have now set out the further steps we intend to take in an action plan.