• NHS Property Services refuses to answer question seven months since it was asked

    24th January 2017 | News | Claire
  • My question is:  What is NHS Property Services overall income compared with its overall spend on maintenance?  That’s it. 

    But NHS PS, which now owns 12 community hospitals across Eastern Devon, including Ottery St Mary’s, clearly views it as a VERY difficult question as managers continue to fob off me and the rest of the health scrutiny committee with incomprehensible double speak. 

    NHS PS claims it manages the NHS’s property portfolio but it appears to have an unhealthy interest in the sale of buildings.  Even the sales from buildings like our own community hospitals which were fundraised for by local communities, would return to a central funding pot.

    Claims by NHS PS that it provides a great maintenance service to its properties are proved to be rather lacking in substance, with hospital leagues of friends having to chip in to fix ailing buildings.

    There has either been no response to my question for most of this time, except I think an inadequate reply a little while ago and at last Thursday’s meeting included in the agenda papers, there was a magnificent collection of words which, although were in English, meant absolutely nothing when put together in the order they were set out in.

    NHS Property Services claims it is part of the NHS family, yet rumours abound of ruthless unaffordable rent increases across the country, of health trusts then being forced to declare their buildings surplus to requirements … upon which point NHS PS swoops in and pockets the cash.

    Sidmouth GP surgery is threatened with closure as the rent has been hiked to an impossibly high level. GPs, NHS PS and our MP, Hugo Swire, who vociferously defended NHS PS last May at my protest demonstration, have been trying to come to an agreement.  But GPs were angry when they read in November’s health scrutiny agenda papers a total misrepresentation of the facts by NHS PS, and asked me to set the record straight at that meeting. 

    NHS PS has steadfastly refused to attend health scrutiny meetings since last September, despite continuing to claim that they are “part of the NHS family.”

    At last week’s health scrutiny meeting I expressed my frustration and called for my question to be answered AGAIN.  It was pointed out that the health scrutiny committee was not legislated to require NHS PS to attend. I proposed that we invite them again anyway but this was not agreed. Instead it was agreed that my question would be asked once again, in the hope that it might actually be answered.

    I pointed out that NHS PS can’t have it both ways. Either they are part of the NHS and subject to the same checks and balances as other NHS organisations, including scrutiny, or they are a private company.  I gave them a bit of a blast as I felt so annoyed.

    I have no doubt as to where their loyalty really lies and I don’t believe they give two hoots about the provision of health services or patient care.

    Unfortunately, cash seems to be the only name of the game.

    NHS PS was set up under the deeply damaging Health and Social Care Act by the conservative led coalition, in 2012.

    It’s item 9 on the webcast which can be viewed here – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/261371

    Photo: Last Thursday’s health scrutiny committee meeting