The owners of online gambling firm bet365 have donated £10m to the NHS.
The Coates family – which includes billionaire businesswoman Denise Coates, her father and Stoke City FC chairman Peter Coates and her brother John – made the generous donation to the University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) via the Denise Coates Foundation charity.
The grant will be used by the UHNM to support staff and patients at both Royal Stoke Hospital and the County Hospital, in Stafford, during the current Covid-19 crisis. and beyond.
UHNM chief executive Tracy Bullock told StokeonTrentLive: “We are extremely grateful to the Denise Coates Foundation for this significant grant to support our staff and patients during Covid-19 and beyond.
“As a result of Covid we have rapidly established new ways of working but in some circumstances are lacking the technology to do this in the most effective way.
“This investment will help fund schemes and provide latest technology to improve communications between clinicians; between clinicians and patients and between patients and their families.
“Covid-19 is also affecting our local communities and this significant investment will also be used for initiatives with our partners in the community, mental health and social care to support them to support us.”
She added: “Thanks to the Denise Coates Foundation, we will be able to prioritise the well-being of our staff at a time when they are working harder than ever before in extremely challenging circumstances and enhance and improve the care and experience of our patients and their families.
“We are also delighted that plans to redevelop our Cancer Centre can be brought forward and will have a legacy far beyond Covid-19 to protect our vulnerable cancer patients and for this we offer our deepest and sincerest thanks.”
Denise Coates launched the charity in 2012 with the aim of supporting education, community and medical research. The charity – now called the Denise Coates Foundation – led to her being awarded a CBE.
Charity Trustee Denise Coates CBE said: “The trustees of the Foundation are committed to supporting the efforts of the University Hospitals of North Midlands, as it, its staff and its wider community of carers and volunteers face what must be the most demanding circumstances in the hospitals and, indeed, the NHS’s history.
“It and they stand on the front line in the battle against Covid-19.
“We have all seen and heard the events unfold in the media as day after day the number of those infected increases and the number of those who tragically lose their lives also rises.
“There are many stories of people suffering without the comfort of close friends and family as restrictions on people’s movement prevent loved ones visiting.
“This is why I and the other Trustees felt we had to step forward and approach the UHNM to see what we could do to help.
“We are sure that the funding the Foundation provides will make a huge difference to the Hospital, the staff and more broadly the people of North Staffordshire and the surrounding area.”
Stoke City chairman Peter Coates added: “The National Health Service has always been very special to this country. They’ve never been called upon as they have at this moment, and they’ve risen to it magnificently.
“I don’t want to use a war analogy, but it is like being on the front line as their lives are at risk. Their response has been just outstanding.
“Denise wanted to do something, and John and myself also, and we’ve made this contribution. We wanted to play our part and show we were fully supportive.”