The EC Harris study found significant variations between the best and worst performing trusts on estate costs.

The research, using data from The NHS Information Centre, found the highest paying acute trust was spending nearly three times the £67.65 per square metre annual figure of the organisation with the lowest costs. The worst performing primary care trust had an annual cost of £215.76, nearly five times higher than the best PCT.

The report said: “The total [NHS] estates services spend is equal to £3.56bn for the financial year 2008-09. A modest 15 per cent reduction would result in a saving of £533.31m.”

The report claimed trusts were “very conservative” about the idea of multiple use of facilities and should, for example, consider sharing space with local authorities.

It added that many trusts should look at leasing space, “particularly those near strategic health authority and PCT headquarters which may shortly have a vacant area”.

The report said space should only be dedicated to one service “as a last resort” and not simply because that is the way the service had been delivered in the past.

EC Harris’s 10 point plan also recommends trusts conduct a demand and capacity review, secure regional economies of scale on logistics and drive greater standardisation in medical equipment procurement.

Healthcare Financial Management Association spokesman Chris Calkin said the variation of spend across trusts was no surprise as spending on estates was one of the first cuts to be made if an organisation ran into financial difficulty.