Bupa offers pay-as-you-go healthcare as UK earnings fall

Marion Dakers
HEALTHCARE company Bupa said yesterday its growth in new markets made up for a year of frustrating progress in Britain.

Bupa, which makes 70 per cent of its revenues outside the UK and expects this to rise, said its domestic performance had been disappointing as public spending pressure and the weak wider economy hurt earnings.

The firm has tried to halt the decline by offering new services such as pay-as-you-go options that give access to one-off treatments such as hip replacements and cataract surgery.

But profits at Bupa’s UK operations fell 22 per cent to £109.7m, which the firm said was partly due to a slide in its health insurance business, where customer numbers fell six per cent to 2.69m.

Overall, revenues rose four per cent to £8.4m and pre-tax profits soared by 165 per cent to £593.6m, following impairments linked to asset sales in the previous year. Australia, Spain and Latin America performed particularly well, the firm said.

“We anticipate economic challenges to continue in a number of countries in which we operate, in particular, the UK and Spain,” said Stuart Fletcher, chief executive of the privately-owned company.

“However, the company, as demonstrated over the last five years, is extremely resilient and has delivered growth year on year and we expect our track record of growth to continue in 2013.”

The firm spent £246.5m on capital investment last year and plans to put more cash into the business this year.

Its investment plans include a foray into British dentistry, in which it hopes to have 50 centres by 2015, and expansion in Latin America.

Yesterday’s results came as reports suggested that Bupa is bidding for Polish hospital group EMC Instytut Medyczny, though the firm declined to comment.