PRIVATE medicine chain General Healthcare Group (GHG), which has five hospitals in Scotland, is in talks with lenders over a £2 billion debt pile that falls due in October, according to a report.

The situation should not affect the operation of the hospitals because the property company and the operating company, which largely trades as BMI Hospitals, are structured as separate companies.

BMI Healthcare has 65 private hospitals across England, Scotland and Wales plus four private treatment centres.

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North of the Border it has Albyn Hospital in Aberdeen, Kings Park Hospital in Stirling, Fernbrae Hospital in Dundee, Carrick Glen Hospital in Ayr and Ross Hall Hospital, Glasgow,

GHG has been owned by a number of private equity firms, with control passing to a consortium including Apax Partners and South African hospital chain Netcare in 2006.

About £2bn of GMG's debt is secured against the properties. Another £222 million is secured against the operating business, which is still profitable.

Debt talks are complicated by the fall in property values in recent years and more muted demand for private healthcare.

The company's lenders have appointed advisers from Lazard bank and accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers to negotiate a deal with GHG's backers, a national newspaper reported yesterday.