Secretary of State for Health hints that community hospitals will no longer be closed and sold off
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 2 Comments by Claire
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health has been quoted in today’s Daily Mail as suggesting that the era of community hospital sell-offs may be a thing of the past.
The article emphasises that Mr Hancock has successfully fought the sell off of his own local community hospital, so is of this mindset.
Let’s look a little closer, shall we…
In January 2017, 12 community hospitals across Eastern Devon previously owned by the local NHS were acquired (no money exchanged hands) by NHS Property Services. A private company in the sole control of the post of the Secretary of State for Health.
NHS Property Services has a remit for managing the NHS Estate - and selling off property that is considered ‘surplus to requirements.’
NHS Property Services is a ruthless operator (not my words, those of people who have had the misfortune to have to deal with them) and demand massive rents, that they like to suddenly and unexpectedly increase.
Previously, of course remember the local NHS owned these buildings so did not have to pay any rent!
So what does surplus to requirements actually mean?
Well, here’s the thing. Across the country, NHS buildings ‘acquired’ by NHS Property Services has been declared surplus to requirements by local NHS organisations, because, guess why? The NHS trusts cannot pay the rent. The building may be desperately needed, but the rents are unaffordable.
NHS England is picking up most of the tab for the community hospital rents in Eastern Devon, which are in the region of around £3m a year. But they won’t pay forever and then what happens?
Will Mr Hancock declare the rents null and void and call off the monster that is NHS Property Services, or will he (and his party) implicitly blame the NHS for declaring the buildings surplus to requirements?
I’m glad to hear Mr Hancock say these words… but for his words to mean anything he will need to call off the rottweilers - his own company.
Pic: The red line protest I organised last year to demonstrate that local people would not allow Ottery Hospital to be sold off