“The credit crunch didn’t have the slightest effect on our ability to get funding,” he says. “If you have a strong balance sheet with a healthy cash flow, it’s a doddle, even in this climate.
“Healthcare is also one of those sectors that’s typically recession-proof. The issues related to psychological illness are no different during periods of economic depression or economic boom.”
Robinson set up Raphael Healthcare with John Lamb, the entrepreneur behind West Yorkshire-based Carlton Healthcare. “Raphael was an archangel so the name seemed a natural fit for our company,” he explains. “I later learned from my lawyer, who’s got a Jewish background, that the word means ‘God heals’ in Hebrew.”
With £1.7m in funding from Lamb, plus £2.8m of bank debt from Allied Irish Bank, the pair built a 30-bed hospital in Newark and admitted their first patient in May 2006. Within six months, the hospital was full. Their dream is to build the best independent hospitals in the country for women with mental health issues.
“Our patients typically have a background of abuse and require 24-hour care, observation and treatment from psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists and nurses,” says Robinson. “The women are referred to Raphael by the NHS and stay with us for about two years. We charge the NHS £3,500 per week, per patient.”
Lamb and Robinson bought Briars Hey, a grade II-listed former residential girls’ school based in Merseyside, last year and plan to have their second hospital up and running by the end of 2009.
The development capital from RJD will be used to acquire even more sites and rocket-fuel growth. “We want to turn Raphael into a company worth £100m in the next three years,” says Robinson.
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