• Spire reports jump in NHS work
  • £293m in NHS funded revenue in 2016 is a significant year on year rise
  • Company suggests NHS work will continue to increase

Private hospital group Spire Healthcare saw the size of its NHS business grow from £262m in 2015 to £293m in 2016, it announced on Thursday.

The company is one of England’s largest private hospital groups and has 38 sites across the UK.

NHS work was the second largest source of its income in 2016 after rising by 13 per cent year on year. Income from patients paid for by private medical insurers was down by 1.3 per cent to £429m, and self-pay patients up by 9 per cent to £170m of revenue.

Spire gets 80 per cent of its private work from direct referrals from patients who have selected it from the Choose and Book system. The remainder of the NHS work comes from work referred from NHS trusts.

Executive chair Garry Watts told analysts the number of referrals from trusts varied significantly across the 44 sustainability and transformation plan areas.

He said: “The range of referrals for hip and knee [surgery] into private [hospitals] goes from 60 per cent to zero. Whether that comes from adequate provision or ideology or whatever.”

He said agency costs were one of his major concerns for NHS work over the coming year and this could be made worse if the government restricted foreign workers from working in the health sector.

Finance director Simon Gordon said changes to the NHS tariff rate would knock 3.9 per cent off its revenue from April 2017, equivalent to £7m.

At the announcement of its trading results on Thursday morning, the company reported overall revenue of £926m, up from £885m in 2015.

The company’s presentation profits had fallen from £60m in 2015 to £54m in 2016. This was put down to losses made at St Anthony’s Hospital in south London,

Spire is aiming for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £162m in 2017.

All Spire hospitals have now undergone a Care Quality Commission inspection, which was identified as a significant cost for the organisation. Of the 20 whose reports had been released, two-thirds received a good rating and a third were rated requires improvement.

The company’s executives said a new hospital in Nottingham was expected to open by Easter, following a new facility already open in Manchester.

Mr Watts said he hoped to have an announcement to make later this year about expanding in London.