Hospital owner Spire expects loss amid Covid-19 pandemic

Hospital owner Spire said it expects to swing to a loss in the first half of the financial year as it set its sights on a return to normal after helping the NHS during the pandemic.

The company said on Thursday that it is expecting a “phased transition back to normal business” after changing the terms of a contract it signed with the health service in March, early in the pandemic.

The changes will set aside a minimum number of beds for private patients at Spire’s hospitals, after more than 46,000 NHS admissions were treated over the first six months of 2020.

The company said it is seeing “increasing confidence and demand” from private patients.

Spire said it will swing to a pre-tax loss of between £24 million and £29 million in the period, compared with a £10 million profit in the first half of last year.

The company said it is also planning to bid for contracts to help shorten NHS queues.

“NHS England has signalled that it expects to conduct a procurement process to tender for providers to help reduce the NHS waiting list, which Spire Healthcare expects to participate in,” it said in a statement to shareholders.

The contracts are likely to start in the last quarter of this year, or at the beginning of next year.

It added: “Growing call numbers and bookings, and indications from insurance partners, show a steady return of the private market, which, combined with strong NHS demand, provides the company with confidence for the medium term.

“Spire Healthcare will now be available to support the NHS to reduce waiting lists whilst growing private activity and remains committed to focusing on its private business over the medium term.”

It will publish full-year results next month.