Netcare apologises again for organ scandal

Hospital group Netcare apologised again on Monday for the human kidney transplant scandal at its KwaZulu-Natal operations almost a decade ago.

“We sincerely and unreservedly apologise…,” said group CEO Richard Friedland in Johannesburg at the release of the group’s annual results for the year ending September.

Netcare was fined R7,8-million last week after it pleaded guilty to unlawful surgeries in which human kidneys were illegally acquired and transplanted at one of the company’s hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

Friedland said it was “not acceptable and we certainly don’t condone it”.

He pointed out that Netcare was now a very different organisation to what it was seven to nine years ago when the illegal transplants took place.

“We now have policies and procedures necessary to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Of the group’s performance, he said, “It’s been a challenging year in both economies,” but that the group had delivered a solid performance in both its South African and its UK markets.

Significant impact
The rand’s strength in the past year had a significant impact on the results.

“Currency conversion had a major impact on both the year-end results and financial position of the Group, due to the prevailing strength of the rand relative to the pound sterling during the year,” the annual report read.

“The average exchange rate used for converting income and expenditure was R11,63 to the pound compared to R13,73 in the prior year, a change of 15,3%.”

Revenue grew in the UK and South Africa when measured in the local currency.

However, due to the rand strength, the group’s revenue decreased by 3,3% to R22 474 million compared to the previous year.

Basic headline earnings per share increased by 26,2% to 98,7 cents.

Friedland said a stand-out feature of the South African set of results was the return to profitability of its primary healthcare division.

He also pointed out that Netcare had contributed around R16-million to helping out during the public sector strike in August to September.

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