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27.06.18

Private giant cuts £70m in value of six NHS hospitals blaming ‘challenging conditions’

Australia-based Ramsay Health Care, one of the largest services providers in the UK holding a wealth of NHS contracts, has blamed challenging operating conditions for its decision to write down £70m in national assets.

The company, Australia’s largest private hospital operator, which boasts a network of almost 40 hospitals and employs thousands of staff in the UK alone, identified six sites in the country as “requiring onerous lease provisioning and/or fixed asset impairment.”

These included Berkshire Independent, Ashtead, Mount Stuart, Croydon, Renacres and Clifton Park hospitals. The first two accounted for £60m net of tax of the provision.

Ramsay managing director Craig McNally said that NHS demand management strategies are having “significant negative impact on volumes” despite the “significant and increasing number of people in the UK awaiting treatment,” and even in spite of the positive tariff adjustment which came into effect in April this year.

“While the funding boost for the NHS announced this week by the UK prime minister is a positive step, we do not anticipate immediate benefits for us and expect operating conditions in the UK to remain challenging in the medium term,” McNally added.

“In the meantime, we continue to focus on operational efficiency improvements in our UK business, which have included a restructure in recent months, as well as focusing our efforts on building our non-NHS business.”

In a statement, the private giant said it was currently focusing on “differentiating” its business by investing more in “a number of quality, innovation and research initiatives focused on achieving industry-leading patient outcomes” in all the markets in which it operates.

In November last year, the hospital chain came under fire after a nurse blew the whistle on short staffing in the company’s internal occupational health service. It was then fined £550,000 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after Southwark Crown Court heard that an investigation had unearthed a string of problems which put both staff and patients at risk.

“Healthcare providers should be aware of their legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees as well as their patients and service users,” HSE inspector Emma Page said at the time. “HSE will not hesitate to hold those accountable who do not fulfil their legal obligations.”

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