Companies set up under a public-private partnership scheme are positioning themselves to become key partners to NHS Property Services, the firm formed to manage health service assets.

Joint venture firms set up under the local improvement finance trust scheme to develop primary care facilities hope to enter into arrangements with regional arms of the property company, which will take over the primary care trust estate next year.

David Pokora, executive director of umbrella group the LIFT Council, told HSJ that LIFT companies would increasingly seek to be involved in managing the wider NHS estate. He said the firms, which are joint ventures between the private sector, primary care trusts and the Department of Health, could provide a local, critical analysis of local health service facilities. Working with NHS Property Services, the companies could find ways of using buildings more efficiently and identify how local estates should be reconfigured.

“If they are able to get more involved than in the past, that’s good news for LIFT companies and for the taxpayer and Exchequer.”

Mr Pokora added that LIFT companies, many of which operate in a single PCT area, would have to work together at PCT cluster level to form joint ventures with the property company at an appropriate scale.

Graham Lea, a partner at solicitors Hempsons, said: “There has been a lot of rumour that LIFT companies have been setting themselves up to take on a wider management role. They have been seen in the marketplace as pushing hard for that.

“LIFT companies are perceived as having knowledge of the marketplace – they’re not perceived as any better or worse than anyone else, but their experience puts them at an advantageous position.”

Health secretary Andrew Lansley last week announced the DH planned to set up a government owned company responsible for owning and managing the PCT estate after the organisations are abolished in April 2013, which was revealed a week earlier by HSJ.

HSJ also understands that NHS Property Services will take over the PCT holdings in LIFT companies.