Health secretary Andrew Lansley has formally announced details of the government-owned firm that will take over ownership and management of much of the NHS estate.
In a written statement laid before Parliament this morning, Mr Lansley revealed that the company, which had previously been referred by the generic name “PropCo”, is called NHS Property Services Limited.
Mr Lansley’s statement said: “The arrangements for it will be finalised in the coming months, however its objectives will be to:
- hold property for use by community and primary care services, including for use by social enterprises;
- deliver value for money property services;
- cut costs of administering the estate by consolidating the management of over 150 estates;
- deliver and develop cost-effective property solutions for community health services; and
- dispose of property surplus to NHS requirements.
Mr Lansley said today the venture will generate savings “that will be spent on improving local services for patients”.
He said sales of surplus assets “will make managing parts of the NHS estate much more efficient — in line with our plans to reduce spending on administration costs.”
HSJ can also reveal that the firm was registered at Companies House on 20 December, with two Department of Health officials as its directors.
According to Companies House records its address is the fourth floor of the DH’s Skipton House property in south London.
Peter Coates, the DH’s commercial director, and fellow DH official Benjamin Masterson are listed as the firm’s two directors.
The firm has a single share, valued at £1, which is held by the secretary of state for health.
However the company’s certificate of incorporation does not include details of how it will run at a local level. HSJ understands regional and local divisions are planned, and these will be key to how the company works with clinical commissioning groups.
Julie Wood, national director for clinical commissioning at the NHS Alliance, said that on a local level CCGs “must be able to influence the property company in the right way… the landlord must be receptive to the requirements of the customer”. She added that CCGs expect they will have to pay for their premises through their running cost allowance.
David Lawrence, head of health for property consultancy Capita Symonds, said the NHS estate costs could come down, but only if the portfolio was managed more effectively. Mr Lawrence argued that through joint ventures with private firms NHS assets could be used as capital to finance investment in telehealth technologies. This would enable the NHS to save money by “decommissioning facilities” and moving more treatment into people’s homes.
Under DH guidance released last August, PCT assets used by foundation trusts to provide community services will transfer to the providers. Sue Slipman, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, said that only transfering assets used to provide treatment to patients to foundation trusts was a “simple view” and “will not work”.
This is because some specialised buildings were used by teams of district nurses, for instance to store drugs, and were therefore necessary to service delivery. Ms Slipman said aspirant community foundation trusts “need clarity on these issues… they affect not only the daily work of clinical staff but also financial planning and risk rating.”
HSJ revealed last week that the company will take over assets owned by primary care trusts, including offices and health centres, community hospitals and clinics. HSJ understands NHS Property Services will also take ownership of public shares of assets built through the local improvement finance trust model.
In a letter to dated 19 January, NHS deputy chief executive David Flory asked PCT cluster chiefs to send details of all land, buildings, equipment and cash held by their organisations.
PCT clusters have until 17 February to complete their submissions.