NHS trusts gain more control over their property

New guidance allows NHS trusts to apply to own buildings where it will help speed up improvements to frontline services

Health Minister,Stephen Hammond, has announced that new guidance on NHS property ownership will enable NHS trusts to apply for the transfer of ownership of properties on their estate.

The change applies where property on a trust’s estate belongs to NHS Property Services (NHSPS) and Community Health Partnerships (CHP).

This change will empower trusts to make decisions based on the needs of the local community and deliver faster improvements to frontline services for patients, all while getting the best value for money for taxpayers

The move recognises that, in many cases, NHS trusts are best placed to judge how to use their estate to best benefit the local community.

Applicant trusts will need to put forward business cases showing how owning the property will:

  • Help them use their overall estate more efficiently
  • Improve frontline services delivered from existing buildings
  • Enable faster decision-making on investment in new wards or patient facilities

Applications will be subject to approval by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The department is already working with two trusts to assess the case for the transfer of specific properties: West Suffolk Foundation Trust for Newmarket Hospital; and Dorset Healthcare Foundation Trust for Boscombe and Springbourne Health Centre.

Following NHS reforms in 2013 and the end of primary care trusts, a large number of properties were passed to NHSPS and CHP to reduce running costs and release cash for reinvestment back into the NHS through the sale of surplus assets.

The presumption that some of the property transferred to trusts in 2013 can automatically revert to NHSPS will also be removed.

However, NHSPS and CHP will continue to hold significant portfolios of NHS property and will remain expert providers of property-related services.

Our NHS Long-term Plan sets out how we will ensure people get the most-appropriate care in the most-appropriate setting, and to achieve that we need to make the best use of our NHS estate

Hammond said: “Our NHS Long-term Plan sets out how we will ensure people get the most-appropriate care in the most-appropriate setting, and to achieve that we need to make the best use of our NHS estate.

“This change will empower trusts to make decisions based on the needs of the local community and deliver faster improvements to frontline services for patients, all while getting the best value for money for taxpayers.

“It will support trusts to invest in development and deliver the ambition for more joined-up and co-ordinated care, backed by an extra £33.9billion a year by 2023 to 2024 to secure the future of the health service.”

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