COMMERCIAL: Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust has agreed to accept stewardship of former primary care trust estate after submitting “test cases” to the health secretary.

The community and mental health provider trust’s board voted to delay taking on responsibility for estate from NHS Bournemouth and Poole and NHS Dorset in March. It cited concerns about the impact on the trust’s financial risk rating and a lack of clarity on the requirements to achieve health secretary approval to sell a property.

The trust was given the opportunity to take on the estate as it took on community services formerly provided by the PCTs. The trust would have all rights and liabilities for the properties unless they wanted to sell it or cease using it for NHS services in which case it would transfer back to the health secretary. The alternative would be for it to transfer to the NHS Property Company and the trust to lease it back.

In a report to August’s board finance director Roy Jackson recommended the board approve the transfer.

He said: “To clarify the Secretary of State’s decision making process, the Trust submitted test cases to the Secretary of State to dispose of a property and to grant access on land across one of its community hospital

Mr Jackson said the Department of Health had approved the sale proposal and agreed to “take forward discussions on 50/50 profit share” when firm proposals were available. However, he noted the DH had stipulated it was treating all requests on a case by case basis and the decision should not be treated as a precedent.