The UK Government has been accused of causing an NHS land “fire sale”, as figures published by the Labour Party show a sharp increase in the amount of land being considered for sale.
Labour are now calling on the Government to make additional capital funding available to the NHS in the Budget this autumn, so that hospitals don’t have to rely on the sale of valuable sites to plug funding gaps.
According to Labour, the amount of NHS land under consideration for sale has risen by 31% in the past year, to 1750 hectares.
And over two years the amount of land for sale has risen by a staggering 320%, meaning there is now more than four times as much NHS land for sale compared to 2015/16.
140 sites currently used for clinical or medical purposes are now identified as surplus, a 20% rise on last year.
43 sites with a market value over £1m are included in the latest report.
They also claim the Government have refused to make public details for almost half (42%) of the available area in their annual round up of NHS Surplus Land, citing “issues of sensitivity”.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “With hospitals crumbling in desperate need of repair and renewal the Government must provide the capital investment our NHS now clearly is crying out for, rather than forcing financially stretched hospitals into a fire sale of assets.
“Patients who want good local hospital services will be alarmed at this huge rise in the amount of NHS land being put up for sale.
“Hospitals are struggling to cope with years of cutbacks from the Tories.
“The answer should be a serious long term government funded investment plan, not selling off the NHS’s family silver.
“What’s more with details withheld for so many of the sites for sale, it simply adds to the sense that this Government is driving through a secret fire sale of valuable assets.
“All this uncertainty and rumours of deals behind closed doors are clearly not good for the long term sustainability of the NHS.
“Ministers must provide the capital funding that the NHS needs in the Budget this autumn, so that hospitals can start tackling the huge repair backlog they face and invest in the future equipment and technology which modern patient care demands.”