NHS Trusts gain more control over their property

Minister of State for Health, Stephen Hammond, has announced that new guidance on NHS property ownership will allow NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts to apply for the transfer of ownership of properties on their estate. A recently published Department of Health & Social Care document, 'Guidance for NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts on requesting transfers of estate in the ownership of NHS property companies', explains that the change applies where property on a Trust’s estate belongs to NHS Property Services (NHSPS) and Community Health Partnerships (CHP).

Applicant Trusts will need to put forward business cases showing how owning the property will:

  • help them use their overall estate more efficiently.
  • improve frontline services from existing buildings.
  • enable faster decision-making on investment in new wards or patient facilities.

Applications will be subject to approval by the Department of Health & Social Care, which is already working with two Trusts – West Suffolk Foundation Trust, for Newmarket Hospital, and Dorset Healthcare Foundation Trust, for Boscombe and Springbourne Health Centre, to assess the case for the transferring of specific properties.

Following NHS reforms in 2013, which saw the end of primary care trusts, a large number of properties were passed to NHSPS and CHP to reduce running costs and release cash for reinvestment back into the NHS via the sale of surplus assets. Under the new guidance, the presumption that some of the property transferred to Trusts in 2013 can automatically revert to NHSPS will also be removed. NHSPS and CHP will, however, ‘continue to hold significant portfolios of NHS property, and to be ‘expert providers of property-related services’.

Stephen Hammond said: “This change will empower Trusts to make decisions based on the needs of the local community, and deliver faster improvements to frontline services for patients, all while getting the best value for money for taxpayers.”