Derek Chappell started his career at 16 as an NHS clerk. Thirty years later, he co-owns HealthCare Scotland, a company which runs five hospitals and clinics in Scotland, England and Canada. Chappell met co-founder Ron Russell when the pair worked for a charity-run hospital in Aberdeen. They spotted the growing market for private hospitals and bought their first hospital in Dundee in 1993. They went on to acquire a psychiatric hospital in Cheadle, near Manchester, a former nursing home in Darlington and the Aberdeen hospital for which they had previously worked. The Aberdeen-based company, which also operates as a nursing agency, has seen profits increase 23% a year, from £1.6m in 1996 to £3.1m in 1999, largely as a result of sales growth of 53% a year. “In our business you can’t compromise on quality,” says Chappell. “You need a £2m operating theatre whether you’re using it to capacity or not. So real profits come from making the assets sweat harder through revenue growth.”
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