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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.

Here’s the article -

Pic:  The red line protest I organised last year to demonstrate that local people would not allow Ottery Hospital to be sold off


1. At 09:06 pm on 03th Oct Roger Giles wrote:

Is this the same Matt Hancock who visited Ottery St Mary Hospital a week previously, and who told an officer to ask Ottery’s Devon County Councillor and Ottery residents to leave the hospital car park? Is this the same Matt Hancock who instructed his driver to go to the front of Ottery Hospital, then to the back of the hospital, then at speed with the blue light flashing to the front again to avoid Ottery’s Devon County Councillor and Ottery residents?  Is this the same Matt Hancock who would go to extraordinary lengths to avoid questions about the future of Ottery Hospital, which has had its in-patient beds and minor injuries service taken away?

2. At 10:01 am on 04th Oct Philip Algar wrote:

Before any apparently good news seems remotely   plausible, we must be given details of how the necessary staffing is to be achieved. EU staff may decide to work elsewhere and potential new nurses are financially penalised by the government who changed the rules. Over-stressed doctors are leaving in droves. Let’s recall that the excuse for stopping some services was lack of staff.  I also seem to recall that the provision of care in the home would only be initiated when the quality of service matched that which had been provided in the hospitals. when I asked where the staff were to undertake care in the home and in the hospital, I was given either no answer or rather poor quality PR speak.

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