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Patientline results prompt share meltdown

Debt restructure ahead

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Patientline saw its share price nearly halve today after it released prelimary financial results for 2007.

Shares fell over 40 per cent to 2.07p after opening at 4.10p.

Results for the year were disappointing and the company warned restructuring its debt burden was the number one priority for the year ahead.

For the year ended 30 March 2007 Patientline made revenues of £43m, down from £47.8m in 2006. The operating loss before exceptional items was £7.2m, up from £3.7m in 2006.

It has closed its Dutch and North American businesses. The company has already reduced debt by 10 per cent to £80.2m but said: "even this figure is too high to be sustainable."

Patientline is talking to its banks, notably Royal Bank of Scotland, about sorting this out and hopes to make proposals to shareholders shortly.

The company rents out tellies and phones to hospital patients. Depsite criticism of its high charges the company increased per minute charges for outgoing calls to 26p from 10p in April. The cost of receiving an incoming call is 39p per minute offpeak and 49p at peak-time. Patientline was investigated by the Department of Health but cleared of doing anything wrong.

Revenue per terminal per day fell 6.4 per cent to £1.62, this figure has been falling for the last three years. The company blames deflation in telecoms charges, reduced treatment times and more use of mobile phones for the fall. The statement further noted: "The NHS ethos is antipathetic to the very idea of patients being charged for anything in hospital." Revenues have been further hit by "The failure by Trusts to generally adopt Electronic Patient Records...".

The full financial results are available here, as a pdf., here.

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