NHS Property Services Limited has made progress in tackling some of the issues that it inherited when it was set up. However, it has struggled to get its tenants to sign rental agreements for the properties they occupy, and it is unacceptable that 70% of its tenants still do not have rental agreements in place. Without these agreements, it is very difficult to run an effective property management company and provide value for the NHS and taxpayers from the £3.8 billion estate that it was set up to manage. The lack of rental agreements has led to many bills being disputed, outstanding debt has almost tripled, to £576 million in March 2019, and £110 million of debt has been written off in the last five years.
The Department of Health & Social Care (the Department), NHS England and NHS Improvement and NHS Property Services have had six years to get a grip of this problem and have failed miserably. While we recognise that the situation is complex, and the provision of health services provided by tenants must continue uninterrupted by rental disputes, the whole system needs to work together far more effectively to find a solution which incentivises tenants to sign rental agreements and pay their bills promptly. We are concerned that the Department has yet to set out a course of action to address this problem, but instead is relying on others to find solutions without a clear timetable for achievement.
Published: 5 November 2019