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Ramsay rolls out community pharmacies

AAP logoAAP 29/08/2016 Trevor Chappell

Australia's largest private hospitals operator, Ramsay Health Care, is rolling out community-based pharmacies as it looks to extend its care of patients to before and after they are hospitalised.

Ramsay already operates 200 pharmacies within its 223 hospitals around Australia, France, the UK, Malaysia and Indonesia but now wants to establish more in Australia outside hospitals.

Ramsay managing director Christopher Rex says Ramsay has already set up 19 non-hospital retail pharmacies- initially in close proximity to the hospitals - and will ramp up the rollout over the 2016/17 financial year.

Mr Rex said Ramsay had been considering how it might extend the range of care that the group currently offers within its hospitals.

"And so we're in the process of rolling out, initially right in the heartland of our patient catchment areas, retail pharmacies that will obviously do all the things that a retail pharmacy does," Mr Rex said on Tuesday.

"But, in addition, it will allow us to connect with our patients pre- and post-admission and take a greater role in managing the care, particularly of those people living with chronic disease."

Mr Rex said that, because Ramsay already operated many pharmacies within its hospitals in Australia, France and the UK, it was already an astute acquirer of pharmaceuticals and confident that the retail strategy pharmacy would help boost earnings.

Ramsay on Tuesday booked a 16.8 per cent lift in full-year profit to $450.3 million, driven by the opening of more than 500 beds and 26 operating theatres around the world.

In 2015/16, Ramsay acquired the HPM Group which has nine hospitals in northern France, bringing Ramsay's total number of facilities in France to 124.

"All regions are experiencing an ageing and growing population and with that comes a greater demand for healthcare," Mr Rex said.

Revenue from Ramsay's Australian and Asian business rose 8.8 per cent to $4.4 billion on the back of an increased number of patients, capacity expansions including facilities at Perth, Cairns and Wollongong, and cost efficiencies.

Ramsay expects to raise its core net profit and earnings by 10 to 12 per cent in 2016/17.

Ramsay also said on Tuesday that despite several years of looking at expansion opportunities in China, it still had not found any opportunities that met its financial criteria.

"I'm hopeful that we will find things that actually do work, not just for us but also obviously for the healthcare system in that country and for potential patients there," Mr Rex said.

Ramsay shares closed $5.86 or 7.8 per cent higher at $81.42 on Tuesday.

AGEING POPULATION DRIVES RAMSAY PROFITS

* Net profit up 16.8pct to $450.3m

* Revenue up 18.1pct to $8.68b

* Final dividend up 11.5 cents to 72 cents, fully franked

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