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NHS Property Services launches Vacant Space Handback scheme

NHS Property Services (NHSPS) has launched a new Vacant Space Handback Scheme which aims to help commissioners to cut the cost of empty space in their buildings by allowing them to pass the liability for eligible vacant space back to NHSPS.

To qualify for the scheme, the space identified by commissioners must be a separable and lettable self-contained unit above 100 square metres, declared surplus to requirements by commissioners, and vacant and free of debt. The handing back of the vacant space must also be in line with the commissioner’s ongoing strategic estate plans.

Property which qualifies for handback, will see NHSPS take over its future costs, following a one-off final payment calculated according to the type of lease it is and how long the building has been vacant.

NHSPS will then re-use the space via re-letting, disposal or development to generate much-needed funds for reinvestment in the NHS.

John Westwood, Director of Asset Management at NHS Property Services, said: “This is an example of how we are applying commercial property expertise for the benefit of the NHS.

“We know that commissioners don’t want to be spending their money on empty space, and now we can help them avoid some of those costs. This scheme will free up more of their budgets for frontline care.

“We can then use our property knowledge to put the space back into use as soon as possible, maximising the value of the NHS estate.”

Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy added: “This scheme is an important part of our ongoing efforts to help the NHS make the most of its estates, delivering greater value for money and freeing up extra funds for patient care.”

The total amount and cost of vacant space in the NHS is estimated to be in excess of £10 million a year on the NHS Property Services estate alone.

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