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Firing up Project Phoenix
Since then, progress on many of Sir Robert’s 17 recommendations has been unclear, with the general election stymieing chances of a swift implementation.
But leading players in the private sector are now seizing the opportunity to put their case for being involved in the upcoming estates transformation.
The most advanced example of this is the pledge by three of England’s biggest primary care property organisations to commit £3.3bn of upfront capital investment to the NHS.
The trio – Primary Health Properties, Octopus Healthcare and Assura – say the money could fund 750 new primary care centres, at a rental cost to the NHS of up to £200m per year.
At face value, the proposal appears to answer one of the three key recommendations in Sir Robert’s report, which called for the private sector to stump up investment in primary care.
Sir Robert described it as a “credible plan” and told HSJ he was “encouraged” by the sector’s involvement.
It is not yet known when NHS chiefs and ministers will make their decision, but the investors are certainly keen - PHP’s managing director Harry Hyman called for an “acceleration of the decision making process”.
Meanwhile, momentum is building in response to another area of Sir Robert’s vision.
HSJ has learned that the business case for the creation of six public/private partnerships to help the NHS dispose of assets will be signed off next month.
Named “Project Phoenix”, the programme would see major property deals struck to unlock capital funds worth £5.7bn, with the profits shared between the NHS and its private partners.