More Changes for NHS Estates

Russell Burns
These are testing times for the NHS. Charged with saving the taxpayer £20bn by 2014, efficiencies are being sought on all fronts.

Following the decision to remove a large portion of the estate from local control, it has taken time for clarification to emerge on who will own which assets. The picture is not yet completely clear.

Following the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) will be abolished by April 2013. From the end of 2012, healthcare properties vested in these entities will have the opportunity to be transferred to the NHS foundation trusts or NHS providers who have formed clinical commissioning groups to assume responsibility for local community services.

Other remaining properties, including admin and surplus sites, will transfer to the newly created centralised property-owning NHS Property Services, together with some 2500 staff. NHS Property Services will also be known as NHS PropCo and is an Arms Length Body which will become a Limited Company owned by the Department of Health.

At a time when healthcare provision is responding to huge change as well as unparalleled financial pressures, the new organisation faces challenges in efficient asset management.

NHS PropCo will assume responsibility for a very large portfolio circa 3500. At a time when healthcare provision is responding to huge change as well as unparalleled financial pressures, the new organisation faces challenges in efficient asset management. Balancing strategic national plans with local needs will not be easy.

The changes bring complex legal and financial problems. Statutory responsibilities remain unclear at present, with governance issues such as who becomes the custodian of the PCTs' long-term commitments under LIFT schemes and PCT-procured PPPs? There are implications for the LIFT and PFI projects concerned and their equity and debt investors.

In the meantime SHA and PCT estates and facilities management divisions have the huge task of auditing assets and assessing where properties should ultimately be transferred. The April 2013 deadline places considerable pressure on estates departments and new organisations to carry out condition surveys, apply consistent data and establish new lines of communication and clarify their supply chain – all whilst dealing with day-to-day maintenance and remaining compliant.

Faithful+Gould has 50 years of health sector experience, spanning all aspects of capital development, estate rationalisation, facilities management, strategic investment planning and environmental support. Our expertise encompasses all procurement models employed in the healthcare environment, including LIFT, Scape, D&B, Traditional, PFI and P21+.

In meeting the sector’s latest estates challenges, we envisage offering transitional support, assisting existing and new client bodies with exploratory, preparatory and operational aspects of navigating their new responsibilities.

Written by