Unfavorable market conditions forces South Africa’s third-largest private hospital chain out of Britain

Difficult trading conditions have forced South Africa’s third-largest private hospital chain, Netcare, to put an end to its Britain ambitions as it plans to leave the market where it has been operating in the last ten years through a controlling stake in BMI Healthcare.

Following the South African private healthcare operator’s announcement on Wednesday, Netcare shares were up 7.7 percent at 13:49 GMT, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Netcare in November said it would reform its British operations, following a decrease in its annual profit that was partially attributed to cutbacks by Britain’s publicly funded healthcare system.

The consistent tough trading conditions across the private healthcare market in Britain, which includes the poor performance by BMI Healthcare as a result of the demand by management initiatives of National Health Service (NHS –England’s publicly funded healthcare) and weaker private medical insurance, left Netcare with no choice but to leave Britain.

Running an operation that has left it with the baggage of over 1 billion pound deficit and a shortage of beds and staff, NHS has been pursuing aids from private health companies including BMI Healthcare, Spire Health, and Nuffield Health. In the UK most private medical services are provided by physicians whose main commitment is to the NHS.

Netcare, however, noted that the total NHS caseload at BMI Healthcare dropped by 4.4 percent year-on-year for the five months to the end of February, courtesy of “stringent demand management strategies.”