NHS Property Services Limited (PropCo) was set up by the DH in December 2011 and is set to become fully operational by April 2013. At present it looks as though PropCo will be the main recipient of the existing NHS estate owned by primary care trusts and strategic health authorities when those bodies are dissolved from April 2013, and their estate will be transferred to PropCo under the terms of the transfer order set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. The current estimate is that PropCo will receive property assets valued at £4.5 billion- £5 billion.
The Secretary of State has set out PropCo’s objectives as being “(to) hold property for use by community and primary care services, deliver value for money property services, …consolidating management, deliver cost-effective property solutions and dispose of surplus property.” What remains to be clarified is how these objectives are to be achieved.
There is still a good deal of speculation about PropCo and how it will be run, whether regional offices will be established and how it will be funded. It is currently thought that initially PropCo will have four regional offices whose geographical areas will be similar to those of the current strategic health authority clusters. Subsequently, it is expected there will be a further drilling down of PropCo to more local centres.
It is also anticipated that nationally PropCo will initially employ a workforce of approximately 2,000 - 2,500 people who will transfer from the dissolving PCTs. Whether that number will remain within PropCo will depend on precisely what functions PropCo will take on as it becomes established.
In the meantime, PCTs will need to continue to prepare for their dissolution and the transfer of their estate by transfer orders both to foundation trusts who have taken over community services and to PropCo. All this is to be carried out in accordance with the timetable set by the DH in a Dear colleague letter from David Flory, a summary of which can be found below.