PERFORMANCE: A small South West foundation trust has established a “strategic estate partnership” to fund and manage a new “health campus”, featuring a GP practice and nursing home.

Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust last week signed a contract with construction companies Interserve and Prime to form Yeovil Estates Partnership in a 15 year deal worth up to £70m.

Paul Mears

Paul Mears said partners could provide ‘services that we aren’t necessarily the best to provide’

The deal makes Yeovil one of a small band of hospitals to set up an SEP, a more flexible form of joint venture arrangement than the private finance initiative.

Trust chief executive Paul Mears told HSJ the joint venture arrangement would help the hospital put into action a master plan it would not otherwise be able to fund.

“There are parts of the estate we could choose to fund ourselves by borrowing,” he added.

“But as a smaller foundation trust, our access to those funds [through the independent trust finance facility] is limited, based on turnover.

“We wouldn’t have been able to borrow to the extent that we would need to in order to deliver everything we wanted to deliver over the next 15 years or so.”

Under its master plan, Yeovil will expand the number of beds for patients with dementia, create a GP practice, nursing home, a retail pharmacy and relocate its day surgery service onto the campus.

Mr Mears suggested other NHS providers, private firms or third sector organisations, could run some of these new services.

“We’re very clear that of the services we currently provide, we will continue providing some of those, such as surgical service in the hospital.

“There may be other services that we aren’t necessarily the best [organisation] to provide. We may want to have some nursing home type beds as part of the development.

“Clearly we wouldn’t provide those services ourselves. That might be a nursing home provider that we would seek.

“We’re also thinking about the opportunity to include extra care housing for older people. A housing association would be better placed to deliver that than we would.”

Mr Mears suggested that capital programmes for parts of the campus could be funded by the trust’s partners, which the hospital would then pay back over time.

“[Our partners] will look at our estate master plan and work with us to find the right the right order [for the various projects],” he added.

The establishment of the 15 year estate partnership deal comes as Monitor launches a probe into the Yeovil’s short term finances. This seeks to find ways of reducing its planned deficit, which has grown at a greater rate than expected.

A spokesman for Yeovil said the probe would have no impact on its health campus plans.

“Like most trusts we were aware that we would be in deficit at the end of the year. [Monitor’s decision] won’t at all cause us difficulty in what we are trying to do.”

Monitor’s probe would help add “rigour” to its plans, ensuring its “short term financial issue does not become an obstacle to this innovative and necessary work”, he added.