The Treasury has identified almost £2bn in NHS estate assets to be sold over the next five years.

In the spending review document, released this afternoon, George Osborne’s department said the sale of the assets would “release land to build at least 26,000 new homes”.

rural houses

rural houses

The government has been pressing NHS trusts to sell excess land for housing

The government has been pressing NHS trusts to sell excess land for housing for several years.

The most recent audit, released by the DH in March, found 697 hectares of “surplus land area” and showed slow progress in reducing this since 2012.

So far in 2015-16 only £2m has been paid out across three trusts as part of the Growth and Efficiency Fund, which encourages providers to divest themselves of surplus estate.

HSJ understands senior figures in government had considered a selloff of NHS Property Services – the arm’s length body that inherited the substantial estate of primary care trusts when they were abolished in 2013 – but rowed back from that.

One source said there was not a proper understanding yet of the size of the portfolio held by NHS Property Services and this would have to be assessed before any further decisions were made.

Another source told HSJ many providers were looking at more sophisticated deals than a straight selloff.

They said that for some trusts there was more interested in working jointly with housing associations to develop sheltered housing sites, which would see houses built, a revenue stream to the NHS and a shifting of care out of the hospital.