The NHS ‘needs a robust strategic plan’ to raise the billions it needs

26 Apr 17

The NHS needs a robust strategic plan to raise the billions of pounds it requires to deliver service transformation, the author of an independent review has said.

Delivering service transformation within the NHS needs £10bn, author of a report on streamlining the NHS’ property and estates Sir Robert Naylor explained yesterday.

“Without a robust strategic plan with clear deliverables then the Treasury aren’t going to really take any notice of bids for funding,” he warned, outlining his findings in NHS Property and Estates at an event organised by the King’s Fund think-tank.

His report - officially launched yesterday - said without investment “the NHS estate will remain unfit for purpose and will continue to deteriorate”.

The £10bn figure is based on the estimated cost of the maintenance backlog for the NHS’s property and the cost of delivering the Five Year Forward Review – both thought to be around £5bn.

Naylor’s report - realeased last month - noted 18% of the estate predates the NHS itself - having been built prior to 1948.

It states despite modernisation of buildings “it is still too often the case that the NHS is operating in inadequate facilities”.

The NHS could raise more than £5bn from the sale of its assets but the remaining £5bn would need to drawn from other sources, Naylor said.

In a report earlier this month The Times said the NHS was looking towards hedge funds to borrow up to £10bn.

Richard Murray, director of policy at think-tank The King’s Fund, wrote a blog for Public Finance this week warning it would not be straightforward for the NHS to borrow from the private sector.

The NHS owned a “huge” estate, equivalent to 9,000 football pitches or 3,000 Albert Halls, only second to the Ministry of Defense and the transport department, Naylor’s report pointed out.

The NHS could potentially provide land for 29,922 homes, he concluded.

The government is creating a new NHS property body and it is making a £325m capital investment over the next three years to develop local Sustainability and Transformation plans - as announced in this year’s Budget.

Naylor said: “We are very grateful for the £325m but what we need is £10bn, this is a really good down payment.”

Naylor was tasked by the health secretary to review the health service’s vast property and estates to develop an NHS estate strategy.

A spokesman for the government said: “The government welcomes the review and will consider the recommendations carefully and respond in due course.”

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