Raffles Medical, IHH to benefit from hospital bed crunch: DBS

RAFFLES Medical and other private hospitals, such as IHH Healthcare, are expected to benefit from the current bed crunch at public hospitals, according to a report by DBS on Friday (Oct 21). 

Analyst Rachel Tan predicts that Raffles Medical, as a partner under the Ministry of Health's Emergency Care Collaboration scheme, could be a key beneficiary as emergency cases spillover from public hospitals. 

She added that other private hospitals, such as IHH Healthcare, could also benefit from the situation, as some patients seek private medical treatment to avoid the long waiting hours at public hospitals.

Earlier this week, it was reported that public hospitals in Singapore are experiencing a severe bed crunch, resulting in waiting time for admission surging as high as 50 hours. This came as a new wave of Covid-19 hit the country, driven by the XBB strain. 

In a press conference last Saturday, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung said the wave is expected to peak at about 15,000 cases by mid-November. MOH also said it will be setting aside more than 800 beds by early-November to mitigate the congestion at emergency departments. 

The flu season, as well as an increased number of acute patients, could be other reasons for the overcrowding at public hospitals, said DBS. 

Based on DBS' ground research, Tan noted that private hospitals are starting to set aside beds for Covid-19 patients and its capacity is quickly filling up with non-urgent treatments being deferred. 

"We believe that the government has had sufficient experience during the past few waves to manage the situation well once again and are well-prepared in anticipation for the peak," she said. 

DBS therefore has a "buy" rating for Raffles Medical and IHH Healthcare, with a target price of S$1.63 and RM7.90 respectively. 

As at 11.55 am, shares of Raffles Medical traded up 0.8 per cent or S$0.01 to S$1.24. Meanwhile, IHH Healthcare shares were down 0.6 per cent or S$0.01 at S$1.81.  

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