Spire to rein in spending on new hospitals after plunge in profits

The new chief of Spire Healthcare has pledged to open fewer new private hospitals and look to return more cash to shareholders, after a plunge in profits.
Justin Ash, who took the helm of the troubled FTSE 250 firm in October, said he would also invest millions of pounds in improving care quality in the wake of the Ian Paterson scandal.
A ?27m provision for compensating victims of the rogue breast surgeon, along with a previously flagged fall in referrals from the NHS, weighed on the firm’s full-year numbers.
Mr Ash said the firm was putting all expansion plans on hold and would focus on “improving returns in capital” to investors and on growing its ‘self-pay’ treatments business.
Shelved projects include its option on a site for a potential hospital in Milton Keynes, while a development in central London was “off the table”, he said.
Spire to rein in spending on new hospitals after plunge in profits

Spire's private hospital in Nottingham
Mr Ash said the Paterson case was “terrible” and Spire was “constantly referring to the lessons learned from it”.
“You can’t be too vigilant. We are making sure at every level we have the best care systems and information,” he said.
He added that the investment was not a direct response to the Paterson scandal.
Shortly after joining Spire Mr Ash fended off a ?1.2bn takeover bid from its largest shareholder, Mediclinic, which it argued "significantly" undervalued the firm.
Mr Ash declined to comment on market speculation Spire remains a takeover target, saying he was “focused on running the business”.
Profits for the 2017 calendar year fell to ?16.8m, down 69pc from ?53.6m the prior year. Revenues inched up less than 1pc to ?931.7m.
The firm also announced its chief financial officer Simon Gordon will step down at the end of this month.
Spire Healthcare shares fell as much as 4pc in early trading before paring back losses and were flat at around 225p by early afternoon.
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