HARD times in East Lancashire have seen the amount of legacies left to hospital wards drop to just a fifth of the total donated 12 months ago.

Charitable funds held by the area’s hospital trust regularly pay for new pieces of medical equipment and comforts for patients.

And in 2010-11 the trust’s charity arm received more than £104,000 in bequests for hospital services across East Lancashire.

This included two separate legacies, of £61,139, in the name of H Eastwood, for the Children’s Respiratory Fund, and £20,000 on behalf of H Derbyshire for cardio and respiratory services.

Another £10,770 was left by T E Kershaw for the chronic pain service.

But for the last financial year, the total had dwindled to just £19,801, with the largest single bequest, on behalf of F Butler, for Reedyford Ward, at Pendle Community Hospital in Nelson, amounting to £17,413.

Just this last year the charitable funds paid for the purchase of three ventilators for the critical care unit at Royal Blackburn Hospital, costing £15,900, and a phototherapy lamp, at £7,520, for the neonatal intensive care unit at Burnley General Hospital.

Hospital accountants have also been considering novel ways of boosting the charitable funds, along with leaving some money with the national Charities Investment Fund.

Company secretary Frances Murphy said: “The charity has engaged the services of an investment manager for the management of it’s invested funds, which consist of a wider range portfolio and a narrower range portfolio.”