The hospital group Netcare experienced a drastic fall in hospital admissions – of 50% – in April.
The hospital group released its results for the six months to the end of March, announcing its suspension of its dividend to save cash.
On Monday, CEO Richard Friedland described an offer to investors over the past two months, following the first Covid-19 case on March 9 at Netcare, as an extraordinary period of “unprecedented challenges”. The board has met weekly since the restriction began.
“The textbook on the pandemic has yet to be written. The more we work with the virus, the more we realize how little we know and understand about the virus.
“It is a virus and a pandemic that, unlike others before, depends on a fundamental shift in human behavior. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to limit the transfer.
“We realize from our own experience that before this shift has not taken place in the workplace, at homes and in the community, the pandemic will not be successfully managed.”
In the first five months of the half-year, business was normal for Netcare and a solid underlying operating performance was delivered.
The patient days fell by 2.6% in the half year due to the impact that has been felt since early March. Excluding its recently expanded psychiatric hospitals, the patient days in its regular hospitals declined by 3.2%.
The higher costs of reducing the risk of spreading the virus, fewer patients and the large changes in the mix of cases being treated have already had an impact on the hospital group’s profits and an impact is also expected going forward.
The impact of the restriction in March reduced the group’s revenue by R143 million in the half year and the operating profit before financing costs and depreciation (ebitda) by R64 million.
In the half year, its revenue rose 1.8% to R10.7 billion and operating profit before ebitda increased 1% to R2.1 billion.