The government has announced that it intends to implement the provisions of the Naylor Report. This was commissioned by Jeremy Hunt to look into NHS Property and Estates and means the next stage of the great NHS Sell Off will result in the sale of the actual bricks and mortar of our NHS.
The Report says that Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) should receive at least twice the sale receipts if they dispose of land or buildings in what it calls a “2 for 1 offer” – the STP would get as a minimum the sale price of the asset and be given the same by the government. This is to incentivise what is outrageously being referred to as “land disposals”. It would be time limited and on a “first come, first served” basis so opening the door to potentially hasty sales at less than the market rate.
Money from selling off NHS land is needed to help deliver STP plans as the NHS has a £22 billion hole in its budget.
We know that there are shortages of a lot of different staff, from doctors to nurses to midwives and more. If a unit is closed because of lack of staff, and the Trust is struggling to make ends meet, our concern is that there could be a temptation to declare that unit surplus to requirements and sell it off.
The problem has been exacerbated by backlogs in maintenance of NHS buildings over the past seven years, made worse by the government taking money from the capital budget to fund the revenue budget. This masked the political decision to underfund the NHS, and now gives a reason to get rid of estate which has fallen into poor condition. The report says that “there is no credible business case” for addressing backlog maintenance “but without it the NHS estate will continue to deteriorate”.
And as our population continues to age, where will the money to invest in new NHS facilities come from when we have sold off all its “surplus” land?