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GP premises could be bought off NHS Property Services by CCGs under new plans

GP premises in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight could be taken away from NHS Property Services as part of radical new plans for commissioners to reshape primary care.

NHS South East Hampshire CCG and NHS Fareham and Gosport CCG said that they want to take control of local estates to ‘work for the needs of our population’.

They added that the contracts with NHS Property Services were ‘not flexible enough’, while the company lacked the ‘incentive and alignment’ to support the local transformation plans.

As a result, they want to see the return of the ‘key assets’.

It comes as the GPC has agreed a new deal with NHS Property Services, which will see GPs who rent premises from NHS Property Services having their stamp duty reimbursed and being allowed to break their lease if they lose their core contract.

But the Hampshire plans – revealed in its ‘sustainability and transformation plan’ (STP), the blueprints for the future of the health service being developed by every region in England – revealed that commissioners are looking to buy all the primary and secondary care property owned by NHS Property Services.

It outlined the ‘managed transition’ of the current non-surplus primary and community care estate currently owned by NHS Property Services into a special investment vehicle.

The plan said: ‘One issue that we will seek to address are the challenges with NHS Property Services, who lack the incentive and alignment to the local transformation plan, and as a result we want see the return of key assets to ensure delivery of our transformation priorities.’

The move has been cautiously welcomed by local GP leaders.

Dr Donal Collins, GP lead for Gosport CCG said: ‘In our fragmented system, organisations tend to look to their needs first, then the systems. Some of the contracts with NHS Property Services while at the time were negotiated in good faith and at a different time in terms of pressure, are now not flexible enough for our needs.

‘If the “system” had control of estates including those GP surgeries who would like to give over control, then estate could work for the needs of our population. It could mean expanding building of some of the estate, and selling on those bits that don’t fit the needs of the local population.’

Dr Nigel Watson, Wessex LMC chief executive said: ‘The premises issue is not directly aimed at general practice. But we are looking to improve premises and to ensure general practice, community services and hospitals are not developed in isolation.’

NHS Property Services denied that ownership of premises would change as a result of STPs and that it intended to work with the CCGs to make sure properties were put to the best use possible.

A spokesperson for NHS Property Services said: ‘We work closely with local providers… to ensure effective use of the healthcare estate nationally and locally. In the past year we have delivered over 100 estates plans in consultation with CCGs and now through the next iteration as part of the STP process.

‘Our property portfolio was a legal transfer as a result of the Health and Social Care Act and will continue to be owned and managed by us on behalf of our stakeholders. Ownership of the estate will not change as a result of STPs. We will continue to work with CCGs and others to ensure alignment and best possible use of the NHS estate.’