Primary Health Properties (PHP), one of the UK’s leading investors in GP surgeries and primary care centres, has claimed it can ease the overcrowding crisis facing the NHS if the government throws its full support behind the building of new, state-of-the-art health hubs.
Harry Hyman, managing director of PHP, believes his firm, and its peers, have a huge role to play in easing the overcrowding of hospitals by developing more hi-tec health hubs that would lead to less people visiting accident and emergency (A&E) departments for minor procedures and injuries.
“If NHS and government is serious about the modernisation of the NHS, and helping to solve crisis in NHS, then they have to get on and sanction more primary care hubs,” Hyman told Property Week. “These are going to be a way of dealing with a much wider range of services outside of hospital, thereby helping ease the pressure on overcrowded A&E departments.
“There are huge pressures on NHS estates, so it’s been frustrating that the pace of change has been relatively slow. But we are now seeing an increase in the number of new hub projects being given the green light. Given the technological advances of these hubs, a hell of a lot can be done to relieve the pressure on A&E departments. These centres are ambulatory care centres, where patients can walk in, have their procedures, and walk out, thereby reducing admissions to A&E. We are currently looking at centres that can cater for 25,000 patients in Manchester and London that will have a big and positive impact on healthcare for local people, as well as easing pressure on hospitals.”
Ambulatory care centres are designed to offer easy access to diagnostic tests, hospital consultants and specialist staff in one place. The government believes they are a way of providing safe care designed around the needs of patients, with the benefit of helping to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.
Hyman was speaking as he revealed annual figures for the year to 31 December 2016, during which net asset value per share increased by 3.9% to 91.1p, compared to 87.7p in the previous year.
PHP also produced a net rental income increase of 6.9% to £66.6m, but earnings per share nudged down to 4.8p a share, a fall of 2% on 2015 due to the impact of additional shares issued in April 2016.
The group delivered its 20th successive year of dividend growth, as dividends per share paid in the year increased by 2.5% to 5.125p, compared to 5p in 2015.
During 2016 the group also completed an oversubscribed equity issue in April, which raised £145.3m. The group spent £74.2m on 24 properties during the year, adding £4.2m to annual contracted rent roll. The balance of equity issues proceeds were used to lower the group’s loan to value ratio to 53.7% from 62.7%.
PHP’s portfolio ended 2016 99.7% let with 13.7 years weighted average unexpired lease term.
Alongside the results, PHP announced that Richard Howell would be replacing Phil Holland as finance director effective from 31 March 2017.
Howell is a chartered accountant with 19 years’ experience working with London-listed commercial property companies, gained principally with LondonMetric Property where he is finance director of its joint ventures and Brixton plc where he was financial controller and company secretary.