Productivity Panel calls for NHS sale of the century

8 Jun 00
The NHS could sell off its £900m of surplus land and assets in one huge deal following the recommendations of an influential government panel.

09 June 2000

Sold on Health, a report published last week by the Public Services Productivity Panel, said the Department of Health should explore the possibility of a one-off sale through a public-private partnership.

The panel has already made informal approaches to venture capitalists, investment bankers and developers and all have responded positively, it said.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn said maintenance of surplus buildings cost the health service dearly. 'It's time for a new perspective on how assets work for patients and staff,' he added.

The panel, which includes KPMG partner and former NHS Executive finance director Dame Sheila Masters, found that the health service would save up to £60m a year by disposing of all surplus assets.

It also recommended that the NHS should make greater use of auctions to speed up sales of property worth less than £500,000.

It acknowledged that trusts needed greater incentives to dispose of surplus property – many have not been able to retain receipts from sales. The panel recommended that receipts should be spent in the area that produced them, while brokerage should be provided to encourage trusts to vacate surplus buildings more quickly.

One NHS accountant, who asked not to be named, said the proposals would create more incentives to sell off surplus assets. But he added: 'I think many trusts will want to spend the receipts on their own capital development.'


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