12 Aug 2013

Demand for private surgery expected to remain subdued

6:57 am on 12 August 2013

Private hospital operator Acurity Health expects it will face continued subdued demand from private patients in the current year and thinks it will see minimal change in Government-funded revenues.

Acurity, formerly Wakefield Health, reported a 2% drop in net profit for the 12 months to the end of March when revenue fell 1% to $79 million.

Operating earnings fell 12% to $14.2 million as a result of increased costs of contracting surgeons for ACC and district health board work and a substantial increase in insurance premiums.

Chairman Alan Isaac told shareholders at their annual meeting the company's insurance bill has risen from $550,000 in 2010 to $1.6 million in 2013.

"We think that the outlook for 2014 will follow a similar pattern to the 2013 year," he said. "The demand for private healthcare is not as strong as it was."

Mr Isaac said that reflects the level of competition in the market, the economy and the level of resources provided to the public sector.

He said redeveloping Wakefield hospital in Wellington, driven by the need to earthquake strengthen the existing buildings, will be a key focus this year.