Two NHS trusts in the North West are planning to form a strategic estates partnership with a private company to unlock new sources of capital funding.

The Countess of Chester Foundation Trust and Wirral University Teaching Hospital FT are set to agree a deal within the next few months, which could help them tackle a shortage of capital funding.

The priority for Countess of Chester will be the construction of a £13m urgent care centre. The trust has already submitted a planning application to the local council with a plan also including up to 500 new homes, a multistorey car park and retail units.

Trust board papers said the strategic estates partnership will involve the trusts owning a 50 per cent share of the joint venture, with the private company managing the estate and drawing up plans that will need to be agreed by the trusts.

The company will receive a fee for each successful product and will need to source funding for any schemes and manage the supply chain around construction and management of the estate projects. The partnership would last for at least 10 years with an option to extend for five years.

HSJ understands the trusts are near to appointing the company and had selected Ryhurst and Interserve as preferred bidders. Ryhurst delivers a number of existing estate partnerships with other trusts including Lancashire Care FT and Cheshire and the Wirral Partnership Trust.

No final decisions on the contract have been made and announcements are expected next month.

An outline of the project for the Countess of Chester board said: “The trust is looking for a joint venture partner to run other parts of the estates such as any surplus land, retail opportunities and car parking.

“Once a partner is appointed both parties must agree to the scheme being taken forward. The urgent care unit is the number one priority for the trust. A private partner will consider the most economical way to achieve this.”

Minutes from the board said trust chair Sir Duncan Nichol “stated that as the normal capital approaches were no longer available due to the current financial position, the strategic estates partnership would provide an alternative funding option for the very important urgent care unit”.

A paper on the trust’s capital programme for the year ahead added: “The main capital omission is the urgent care unit (circa £13m), which has previously been identified as an organisational priority. It is currently envisaged that this whole scheme will be the priority area for the trust’s strategic estates partner upon their appointment.

“The view being that a pragmatic solution needs to be found quickly, to relieve the pressures on the physical department, enhance patient experience and also aid patient flow.”