COMMERCIAL: An aspirant community foundation trust on the south coast has launched a bid to take over the entire estates of its two commissioning primary care trusts.

Solent NHS Trust, which has taken on NHS Southampton and NHS Portsmouth’s provider arms, is one of the biggest community providers in England with 4,200 staff and annual revenue of £181m. It is also the only aspirant CFT in the South Central region.

The trust requested that both Southampton and Portsmouth PCTs hand over their entire estate, after the Department of Health announced in January that aspirant CFTs would have the right to request PCT estate transfer.

Portsmouth’s board backed the wholesale transfer of its 84,691 square metres of estate. Although Southampton’s board voted to hand over less than a quarter of its 38,062 square metre estate, Solent could still gain more than 90,000 square metres of former primary care trust estate, if the transfers are approved by the strategic health authority.

Southampton’s blocking of the request followed legal advice warning the PCT it could be accused of contravening co-operation and competition rules by other providers using the sites.

Parts of Southampton’s estate are used by Care UK, Hampshire Partnership Trust, Southampton University Hospitals, Southampton City Council and the University of Southampton, as well as a number of GP practices.

Southampton’s board has agreed in principle to transfer six properties where Solent is the majority user, but the final details have yet to be agreed.

Portsmouth’s director of estates and facilities management Ted Griggs told HSJ competition between providers had not been an issue there, as Solent was the major operator in all of the PCT’s estate.

Solent will take on the St James’ Hospital site, St Mary’s Community Health Campus – except for the parts still owned by Portsmouth Hospitals Trust – and a range of other health centres and clinics across the country.

It is planned that remaining PCT staff will be based at St James ‘ Hospital, although public health staff will soon be moving over to Portsmouth City Council.