Healthcare 2019 outlook
In 2018, we've seen the emergence of infrastructure funds investing in the sector, driven very much by the long term cash flows they're seeking.
An availability of finance is very much starting to drive valuations up across the sector and at the same time we've got a lot of the very largest operators up for sale. It'll be really interesting to see who actually buys those assets. Private hospitals suffered very much from cuts in the NHS budgets and they've seen a reduction in the number of referrals and operations.
Allied Health Care have shown just how difficult it is to maintain viability in those high staffing businesses and nursing care continues to erode as driven very much by the lack of availability of nurses.
Technology has got to be the big opportunity. We've seen the emergence of humanoid robots at a few conferences now. I think their functionality is still a bit too limited to be really useful but artificial intelligence, I think that's got a big role to play in increasing the efficiency of the back office.
I expect to see modest growth in the sector in 2019 driven by the aging population and increasing comorbidities. There are around 1.4 million people who are currently not getting the care they require so we urgently need a resolution to the broader social care budget.
I'm not sure I expect that to happen in 2019 so we need to continue to operate within the existing financial pressures.
Staffing is the big challenge in 2019 especially trying to recruit in rural areas. The recently announced increase in national living wage is only going to add to the economics and the impact of Brexit will be felt but I think it's manageable within the sector.
We need to professionalise the sector to make caring a career that people really aspire to join. So whether that's through qualifications or some form of recognition scheme we need to make it far easier for operations to recruit and particularly, to retain talent in the sector.