Central property organisation and GPs will take on management and sale of £4billion worth of assets
The countdown to the closure of primary care trusts (PCTs) continues with the release of guidance from the Department of Health (DH) on the transfer of up to £4billion worth of healthcare estate assets.
Ministers have set out the timings and actions required from PCTs over the coming months to prepare to hand over their estate to GP commissioning groups on 31 March next year.
In the run-up to the deadline, trusts are being asked to identify all property and legal charges and any other assets or liabilities that will need to be transferred and recorded in Property Transfer Schemes. This will include identifying not only assets such as equipment and IT, but also identifying options, overages, grant agreements, development agreements, warranties and guarantees given.
PCTS, which are being abolished as part of the health reforms, will also have to provide any other information that is essential to the transfer of ownership of estate to facilitate operation and management without causing disruption to any services provided.
The solution is being seen by many industry insiders as key to improving the long-term viability of the healthcare estate, futureproofing services, and making the financial savings needed across the NHS.
We’re looking at a portfolio that comprises as many as 4,000 sites with a book value of £4billion which, with the right commercial advice, could be the answer to regenerating and rationalising NHS property in support of new models of frontline care
The call to action follows the recent announcement by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, that any buildings owned by PCTs which are not being transferred to the replacement bodies will be taken on by NHS Property Services, a company owned by the Department of Health. The scale of this undertaking is not yet known, but it could include a portfolio of health centres, offices and community clinics estimated to cover some 5.2 million sq m.
Commenting on the reforms, Peter Wearmouth of asset consultancy, Capita Symonds, said: “The opportunities for optimisation and investment are huge. We’re looking at a portfolio that comprises as many as 4,000 sites with a book value of £4billion which, with the right commercial advice, could be the answer to regenerating and rationalising NHS property in support of new models of frontline care.”
Announcing the formation of NHS Property Services, Lansley said its remit would be to deliver value-for-money property services, to cut the costs of administering the estate by consolidating its management, and to deliver and develop cost-effective property solutions for community health services.