Takare weathers nursing reforms

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TAKARE, the leading operator of purpose-built nursing homes, has weathered the initial impact of the Government's community care reforms with only a slight fall in occupancy rates and no significant downward pressure on weekly fee rates.

Pre-tax profits in the six months to 30 June rose 16.8 per cent to pounds 6.58m, before a pounds 370,000 exceptional profit on the sale of a non-purpose-built nursing home and the interim dividend is also 16.8 per cent higher at 0.7p. Earnings rose 15.8 per cent. Takare shares rose 2p to 237p.

Keith Bradshaw, chairman, said that occupancy levels were 97 per cent compared with Takare's normal 98 per cent. He said this was a good result bearing in mind that 300 new beds had been commissioned less than two months before the community care reforms began on 1 April, and many hospitals and local authorities had accelerated admissions to beat the deadline.

Under the reforms financial responsibility for admitting new dependent patients to nursing homes has been switched from central government to local authorities.

Mr Bradshaw said there had been no significant downward pressure on fee rates - the average decline across the country was about pounds 3 a week for each patient or less than 1 per cent of Takare's average weekly revenues of pounds 307 for each bed.

' The reforms so far have had only a minimal impact on our top-line weekly bed fees. But there is anecdotal evidence that pressure is increasing elsewhere in the nursing home sector, particularly among the smaller operators.'

Turnover rose 65.4 per cent to pounds 34.9m, reflecting a 57 per cent increase to 4,285 in the average number of beds contributing to revenues.

Average revenues from each bed rose 5 per cent from pounds 292 to pounds 307 a week because of higher Department of Social Security rates and a greater proportion of higher-priced patients either paying privately or being supplied under contract from health authorities.

During the first half Takare commissioned 480 new beds to bring the total of operational beds to 4,770 after taking account of the sale of St Catherine's, a 45-bed home and one of only two non-purpose-built homes still owned by the company.

Takare estimates that it now has a 2.1 per cent market share of the nursing home sector, ahead of Westminster Health Care, whose 3,245 beds give it a 1.4 per cent share.

Another 450 beds should be commissioned in the second half of the year to bring the total to 5,220 by the year-end. By the end of 1994 Takare expects to have 6,600 beds in use and a further 1,400 under construction.

Anthony Dew of Kleinwort Benson Securities is forecasting a rise in pre- tax profits from pounds 11.8m to pounds 14m in the current year followed by a further increase to pounds 16.5m in 1994.

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