£460,000 tax bill for hospital donation philanthropist

 

A widower who donated £2.3 million to a specialist NHS cancer hospital has been landed with a £460,000 VAT bill, he said today.

Entrepreneur Jimmy Thomas has called for a change in the law to ensure hospitals are exempt from the tax after he funded the refurbishment of the Ellis Ward at the Royal Marsden cancer centre, in Chelsea, west London.

The wealthy 78-year-old donated the cash in tribute to his wife Alma, who was treated at the hospital before she lost her fight with ovarian cancer in 2008.

Mr Thomas, who made millions of pounds through a bingo hall empire across the East Midlands, described the VAT costs as "criminal" and said he had raised his concerns with the Prime Minister.

Mr Thomas, a Conservative party donor, said: "The fact that a world-leading hospital, at the very pinnacle of treatment excellence, should be slammed with a VAT bill just to improve facilities for essential NHS care is criminal. The law must be changed.

"The ward - which had 18 NHS beds and two private rooms - needed so much work to provide the comfort and dignity the patients so badly required, the refurbishment work was classed as a rebuild. And under the law, a rebuild is subject to VAT at 20 per cent.

"I have sat next to David Cameron at lunch and explained this atrocious state of affairs. So far, there has been no response and frankly I am tired of waiting.

"He vowed he would not take money from the sick and vulnerable to fill the financial black hole, and that's exactly what he continues to do."

The Ellis Ward - which provides treatment for female patients - reopens tomorrow following the completion of a one-year rebuilding project.

Mrs Thomas died on New Year's Eve in 2008 at the age of 74. Mr Thomas, the co-founder of the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, London, praised the care given to his wife by Royal Marsden staff but said the hospital was in need of investment.

He said: "Her treatment was excellent and the staff were superb. But the facilities in which they had to work were far from what was required.

"There were two toilets for 16 people, a cup hook for her shower towel, and the beds were so close together doctors had to nudge a neighbouring bed out of the way to pull a privacy curtain into place.

"Alma was embarrassed for the staff at the conditions in which they had to work. At one point she took off her diamond ring and offered it to help change the facilities.

"I decided at that point I would formally offer to raise funds to change the ward to a place where the patients there can have the dignity they are due and the staff the facilities they require."

Mr Thomas has now set up a trust to continue fundraising for the Royal Marsden.

Medical director Professor Martin Gore said: "Here at the Royal Marsden, we are delighted with the new modernisation of Ellis Ward.

"We are grateful to the generosity of Mr Jimmy Thomas and his family, who, by funding the refurbishment of this ward have realised his wife's vision of creating a state-of-the-art unit with a warm and welcoming environment which ensures the highest levels of comfort for NHS patients."

Project leader Paula Reason, of Cadmium Design, said: "Our challenge was to balance the practical with the emotional, which we hope we have achieved through the use of colour and materials that soften the traditional look of a hospital ward.

"Central to the theme was the purple anemone, which was Alma Thomas's favourite flower, which appears throughout the ward.

"Simple elements we have looked at are the bed-heads, handbasins, windows, toilet areas. We hope we have given an element of optical illusion that creates a warm environment where patients can undergo treatment in a safe and inspiring environment."

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine