Interview: Tony Griffiths from NHS Property Services
Fri 14th March 2014, 4:44 pm
NHS Property Services' regional director for London, Tony Griffiths, caught up with the Sitematch team to answer a few questions.
Can you tell us something about your current role and responsibilities?
I am regional director for NHS Property Services in London. I lead a team of experts in fields such as asset management, facilities management, all landlord and tenant matters and disposals, who are supported by around 400 staff to provide a comprehensive estates service for our occupants in London. We ensure our health buildings are safe, warm and clean, providing the backdrop for the provision of high quality patient care. We are responsible for commissioning new buildings, as well as identifying and disposing of surplus sites, freeing up land for development and putting money back into the public purse.
How did you come into your current role?
I was previously managing Primary Care Trust properties in south west London and was appointed after a competitive process. Before that I worked in a broad range of property-related roles within the NHS, holding positions including chief operating officer for a Facilities Management and Capital Planning Support Service Partnership, PFI Project Director, Director of Estates, and Director of Community Health Services.
How and why was NHS Property Services set up?
NHS Property Services came into being on 1 April 2013 as part of the government’s wider NHS reforms, and was established to get the most out of the NHS estate. There are many benefits to being a single company, not least that we bring together a wider range of professional skills than was possible under the former Primary Care Trusts, which each had its own estates team covering a smaller area. We also have more buying power regionally and nationally, and can consolidate contracts on a bigger scale, raising standards whilst saving both time and money.
It’s been almost a year since NHS Property Services has been set up. From your perspective, what have been its greatest results? And what are the key challenges?
Our most significant challenge from day one was getting to grips nationally with 4,000 properties inherited from 161 primary care trusts with 161 different ways of doing things. We are focusing on standardising and improving key areas including addressing under utilisation, effectiveness and efficiency in facilities service delivery, professional landlord and tenant management, and the speedy identification and proper disposal of surplus sites.
During the last calendar year NHS Property Services generated more than £22 million from sales of surplus assets, with a saving of £2 million per year on their running costs. Consolidating contracts is also starting to realise gains, with our national electricity procurement saving £1.2 million so far.
Can you say something about NHS estate in London that is owned by NHS Property Services? Size, value etc?
We have around 500 buildings in London, but the number and value is always changing as we dispose of sites, commission new buildings and improve existing ones. Our largest site is Edgware Community Hospital, which is 33,275 sq. metres, but we also own and manage hundreds of smaller sites. Our buildings range from the ultra-modern – the new Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton – to the truly historic – Finsbury Health Centre is the only NHS health centre listed at Grade I by English Heritage. Our property portfolio in London is hugely diverse, and provides a wealth of unique challenges and opportunities.
Are there any opportunities developers should be looking out for in the near future?
We are working hard to identify sites that are surplus to clinical requirements and could be released for alternative uses, so I would say there are always opportunities coming up. Companies which are members of the Greater London Authority’s development panel will be made aware when certain sites become available. We are supportive of this scheme, which launched in May 2013, as it provides an avenue through which to dispose of large sites specifically for housing – a key priority for the Government, the Mayor of London, and for our company. In addition, it is likely that many sites declared surplus in future will be sold on the open market, and these will generally be advertised through commercial agents. I would advise organisations interested in potentially purchasing former NHS sites to continue to monitor the market in their usual way, which includes meeting us at Sitematch.
Why is NHS Property Services attending Sitematch? What are the objectives for the event?
This is an exciting event that provides an opportunity for us to meet prospective developers in an informal setting, make new contacts, explain what NHS Property Services has to offer now and in the future, and determine how we can work together to dispose of surplus NHS property with the maximum benefit to all parties.
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