NHS trusts gain more control over their property
Author: Ingrid Torjesen
NHS trusts and foundation trusts will be able to apply to transfer ownership of properties on their estate if it belongs to NHS Property Services (NHSPS) and Community Health Partnerships (CHP) if they can show it would speed up improvements to services, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
The opportunity to apply for transfer of ownership is laid out in new guidance on NHS property ownership published last week.
Health minister Stephen Hammond said that the change recognises that, in many cases, NHS trusts are best placed to judge how to use their estate to benefit the local community.
“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,” he said.
“It will support trusts to invest in development and deliver the Long Term Plan ambition for more joined-up and coordinated care, backed by an extra £33.9 billion per year by 2023 to 2024 to secure the future of the health service.”
Applications will be subject to approval by the Department of Health and Social Care, and 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 from existing buildings, and enable faster decision-making on investment in new wards or patient facilities.
The department is already working with two trusts to assess the case for the transferring 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.
NHSPS and CHP will continue to hold significant portfolios of NHS property and will continue to be expert providers of property-related services.