17 May 2011

No immediate boost in private health sector expected

7:34 am on 17 May 2011

Wakefield Health says there's no signs of a turnaround in the private health sector though it is still looking for potential acquisitions.

The private hospital firm made an underlying profit of $5.1 million in the year to the end of March, a decrease of 17%on the previous year, as revenue fell and costs rose.

Wakefield Health chief executive Andrew Blair says demand from private patients, particularly for complex and costly operations, remains weak.

Mr Blair says revenue from District Health Boards remain patchy, and is well down on previous years because contracts have mostly been for minor procedures.

He says there's no immediate signs of improvement as the economy remains fragile and the number of New Zealanders holding private health insurance is down slightly.

Andrew Blair says Wakefield Health is focussed on growing through acquisitions, but only when the right opportunity presents itself.

Mr Blair says company is in discussions with parties at the moment, but nothing can be announced at this stage.