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Centene’s investment shake-up could mean NHS u-turn

There was little public attention paid to the decision last year by US health corporation Centene to spend a reported $700 million in cash to buy out the remaining 60% it didn’t already own of Circle Health and take complete control. 

Circle itself, with increased resources from private equity investors, had in 2020 taken over England’s largest private hospitals chain, BMI, with 47 hospitals, 2,400 beds and turnover in excess of £900m. This enabled Circle to pick up the biggest slice of the £2bn-plus NHS contract effectively block-booking almost 8,000 private hospital beds in the first year of the Covid pandemic: Circle’s share of that contract, £468m, boosted the company’s revenue in 2020 by more than 50%. 

So, with just this one major investment, Centene/Operose had leapt into pole position to exploit the turn by the NHS since the Covid pandemic struck to long-term reliance on private hospital beds to compensate for severely restricted numbers of beds available to treat waiting list patients.

Full story in The Lowdown, 22 February 2022

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