NHS ‘does not have capacity to maximise the value of its estate’

29 Sep 17

The health service does not have the capacity to maximise the value of its estate, the author of a major review into how the NHS uses its land and property has stated.

Robert Naylor outlined some of the findings of his report yesterday at an event hosted by The King’s Fund into the health service’s assets.

He also warned that the targets of raising £2bn for reinvestment and releasing land for 26,000 homes could be hampered by a lack of skills.

Naylor argued that maximising the value of the health estate, which includes some sales and some redevelopment of sites, would help pay for the £5bn maintenance backlog and the £5bn needed for the Five Year Forward View plans.

Speaking about the necessary skills needed to execute an NHS property strategy of this scale he said: “Do we have the capability and capacity to do this? I think my answer is clearly, we don’t.”

He noted that in 1970s and 80s the NHS had regional estate and work offices, district engineers, “people who were responsible for this issue (of estate management)”.

“That has all pretty much disappeared, it has been eroded over time by successive reorganisations and a lack of focus on the estate and we need to rebuild that,” Naylor stated.

According to Naylor the capacity to do strategic planning needed to be rebuilt, beyond the capability of tactical and technical matters which people can be employed to do.

The chief executive of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also called for there to be more incentives for local bodies to take action with their estates.

“We need to incentivise trusts in particular because its trusts where the assets are, hugely valuable assets in provider side organisations,” he said.

All of these require national planning but the government has yet to formally respond to Naylor’s report or permit his second report, which focuses on the high-value assets in London and is to be published later this year. 

Naylor said: “We need to have national acceptance, a national framework, we need to establish the NHS Property Board which I have recommended, a powerful property board with teeth and we need to create an environment at local level where local people with a high degree of autonomy can get on make the changes.”

He believed Whitehall should not dictate changes but they needed to be decided on the ground.

Did you enjoy this article?