Medical Property raises £110m for GP centres

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The Independent Online

Planned changes in the NHS have prompted the Medical Property Investment Fund to roll out a new brand of healthcare centres. It follows the £37m acquisition of the investment manager Berrington, which nets its chief executive Richard Burrell £20m in cash and shares.

Medical Property will be headed by Mr Burrell after the deal. He is to receive £2m in cash and the rest in shares at 170p in Medical Property. He will be locked into the shares until 2008 for part of the holding and until 2011 for the rest.

The group, which runs 82 primary care facilities in Britain, raised £110m through a share placing yesterday to fund its new brand of improved GP practices, Assura. It is working on a pilot scheme in Liverpool, the Assura Health and Wellness Centre. The new brand brings together a pharmacy, doctors and specialists under one roof.

Medical Property hopes to capitalise on the recent NHS White Paper which seeks to move more services into doctors' surgeries.

Mr Burrell, the architect of the group's strategy, said "The White Paper confirms the overall direction. We are one of few companies uniquely poised to benefit." He added the group's approach of owning and running healthcare assets in partnership with doctors was unique and there was a big shift to private and corporate ownership for the 10,000 doctors' surgeries in England and Wales.

The group plans to have more than 100 healthcare centres by the end of the year. Their size will range from five GPs and 10,000 patients to 44 GPs and 68,000 patients. The group also hopes to have 20 pharmacies open by the end of next year.

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