• Jim Mackey reveals plan to build 22,000 affordable homes on NHS land
  • NHS Improvement chief says he could stay in the job more than planned two years
  • Mackey: NHS has “got years” of work trying to tackle financial challenge

Plans are being drawn up to build 22,000 affordable homes on excess NHS land, the chief executive of NHS Improvement has said.

Jim Mackey

Jim Mackey said providers must 'keep trying to learn from each other, keep trying to improve the position'.

Jim Mackey

Jim Mackey said the new homes would be offered to health service staff in areas such as London, where key workers are being priced out of the housing market.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester on Thursday evening, Mr Mackey also said the NHS will be dealing with its financial difficulties for “years”. He also said he would stay in his job for longer than the planned two years if necessary.

Asked how hospitals could meet their workforce plans if key workers could not afford to live in cities such as London, Mr Mackey said: “Colleagues are working on a plan to try and utilise the NHS estate better to provide more affordable housing for NHS staff. So some [Department of Health] colleagues and other specialist colleagues are working on that now.

“It’s not in the category of being fixed next week or next year but it’s absolutely on the agenda, for another 22,000 units over the next few years…

“It’s one of those things that’s very regional, so it’s not an issue at all in the North East and maybe not an issue here [in Manchester], but in London and some other places it’s absolutely an issue.”

Sir Robert Naylor, chief executive of University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust, has been advising the government and NHS on its use of estates, following recommendations in Lord Carter’s review of hospital productivity.

Data released this week showed trusts in England had sold land worth more than £250m in 2015-16 and had surplus land with a “declared market value” of £334m.

On the financial challenge facing the sector, and the £1.8bn of “sustainability and transformation” funding available to providers in 2016-17, Mr Mackey said: “That was portrayed as we’ve got to a certain point so let’s fold our arms and say that’s enough.

“[But] that’s not where we are and that’s not where you are. We are going to go at this [the efficiency challenge] every day of the week, all of us together, keep generating ideas, keep trying to learn from each other, keep trying to improve the position.

“There won’t be a point where this is fixed, we’ve got years of this. Good organisations do this all the time and our best organisations in the NHS are absolutely at this all the time.”

Last month, Mr Mackey admitted to HSJ the provider sector will not be brought into the black this year, in conflict with national requirements agreed six months ago.

Although he plans to leave the post after two years, Mr Mackey said this was “flexible” and he is “not going to leave a job that’s only half done”.