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24 February 2012 | Angeline Albert
The NHS could save £1 billion through
improved procurement for estates and efficiencies gained through land disposal,
according to research.
According to consultancy EC Harris the health
service is missing out on £2 billion savings by wasting the space available in
its estate. In addition to the £1 billion saved through better procurement, a
further £1 billion could be saved by selling off 50 per cent of this unused
space. The report added that neighbouring NHS trusts should work together to
maximise economies of scale and make better use of its estate.
In its third annual report into the
efficiency of the NHS estate Shaped for the future - Reforming the NHS Estate,
EC Harris said the NHS had cut the amount of space underused by 210,000 metres
squared in 2010-11 compared to 2009-10, the equivalent of 264 football pitches.
But 1.9 million metres squared remains poorly utilised.
“The majority of remaining unused space is
owned by foundation trusts and is therefore not accessible to the Treasury to
dispose of or seek savings through leveraging procurement scale,” said Conor
Ellis, the report’s author and a partner at EC Harris. “This means that local
collaboration is more important than ever.”
The NHS has to save £20 billion by 2014-15.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health (DH) said
the it had identified “the potential for £1.2 billion savings as part of the
[Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention] initiative and is launching
a procurement strategy in April to help the NHS deliver this target.”
She added: “The NHS decides locally on the
estate they need to deliver high quality services. This includes deciding which
estate, not needed by the NHS, can be used more efficiently.”
DH is establishing the company NHS Property
Services, which will manage properties owned by primary care trusts, when they
are abolished at the end of March. The company (owned by the department) will
release savings from properties that are surplus to requirements but NHS
foundation trusts will remain responsible for their own estate.