3rd February 2017
By Graham Smith
NHS Property Services has refused to say what steps it is taking to value community hospitals, and other parts of its estate, as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) drive to cut £264 million from Cornwall’s health budget.
Health bosses have refused to rule out the possibility that some community hospitals might be declared “surplus to requirements” and sold. The Edward Hain hospital at St Ives, for example, has already been closed for a year.
While its future is still, technically, “under consideration” the first anniversary of the closure is next week. Few expect it ever to re-open as a hospital, even though its NHS website still says: “Edward Hain Community Hospital is currently closed to inpatients as a result of fire safety concerns.”
Cornwall Reports has been trying to confirm that valuation of the health estate is already well underway, as this financial information is vital to inform the final recommendations of the STP. It is inconceivable that a review designed to save £264 million could conclude without knowing how much the real estate is worth. Having failed to get an answer in December, Cornwall Reports last month filed questions under the Freedom of Information Act.
Today (Friday) the NHS Property Services Agency replied – claiming that because the information was “commercially sensitive” it did not need to be disclosed. The answer does not deny that valuations are underway. The full text of the questions and answers is reproduced at the end of this article. The PSA has provided a list of all of the properties within its estate, and the nature of tenure – you can download the Cornish Properties document here.
The Bodmin Treatment Centre. It's future is thought to be secure, as it was built under a Private Finance Initiative deal which would make it more expensive to close than to keep open.
In December, a spokesperson for NHS Kernow said: “We are on a journey to revolutionise our health and care system and create a joined-up and sustainable service that’s fit for the future and meets people’s needs. Shaping The Future provides this opportunity.
“We want to provide 21st century health and care in modern surroundings, but some of our buildings are in need of urgent repair and major investment and are simply unsuitable to provide the high quality care people need.
“We must also end our over-reliance on expensive hospital-based care and focus on preventing illness and offering support at home or in the community. Around 60 people a day are staying in a bed at Royal Cornwall Hospitals and about 35 per cent of community hospital beds are being used by people who don’t need to be there.
Edward Hain hospital, St Ives: the first anniversary of its closure is next week
“This means transforming and developing an infrastructure that meets the needs of our communities and allows clinicians and care services to work closely alongside each other to support people. This will include the development of a network of urgent care centres and community hubs containing a range of services working alongside all primary care and council services under one roof to prevent or reduce acute hospital admissions and help people retain their independence.”
“We need to be realistic about the money we have available to spend and ask ourselves if we want to spend money on old buildings or invest in professionals providing direct care in the community. We need to identify which services we need and where they should be, with the money we have available to spend.
“These are the discussions we’re now having with the public, our staff and our providers and what they tell us will be used to develop our detailed plans. We will outline any proposals and consult on any major changes from summer 2017.”
Questions and answers dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act:
1. A list of all properties owned by the NHS in Cornwall, and their current (or most recent) valuations.
Please find attached Cornish Properties. Details of all other NHS properties can be obtained from the Department of Health.
2. If valuations do not exist, a description (with timetable) of the process by which valuations will be determined.
NHS Property Services instructs valuations of its estate for financial statements, for leasing purposes and to assist in developing disposal strategies for those properties which have been declared surplus to NHS use by clinical commissioners.
Market valuations are commercially sensitive and NHS Property Services is not required to disclose them under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. NHS Property Services does not have access to any valuations produced for other NHS organisations.
3. A description of any assumptions that have been made about any parts of the estate, eg planning gain.
Valuations for financial statements are undertaken in line with financial standard IAS 16 Property, Plant and Equipment. NHS Property Services is not required to disclose market valuation assumptions, as such reports are commercially sensitive, as defined by Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.