LIFT firms bid to control primary care estates

GP leaders have urged ministers not to allow LIFT companies to take over primary care estates when PCTs and SHAs are wound up in 2013.

Dr Holden: promoting flexibility (Photograph: JH Lancy)
Dr Holden: promoting flexibility (Photograph: JH Lancy)

The companies are typically partnerships between private property developers and PCTs that build modern premises for primary care. LIFT firms own and maintain premises, and lease them to NHS providers.

The LIFT Council, which represents these companies, says in its response to the White Paper that they should become asset managers of primary care estates. LIFT Council executive director David Pokora said in some PCTs they run 80 per cent of estates and it 'makes sense' to hand over the rest.

'It's not a radical idea at all,' he said. 'There are areas where the LIFT company is on course to own 100 per cent of the estate soon anyway.'

Mr Pokora said LIFT companies could run and maintain NHS estates more effectively than GP consortia or the NHS Commissioning Board.

'There is very little in the White Paper about what will happen to premises when PCTs are abolished,' he said.

'That is where LIFT comes in because we are expert asset managers who will get good value out of the estate.'

But GPC negotiator and premises expert Dr Peter Holden said the idea reflected 'vested interests'.

'What we don't want is to start by being strapped into contracts and some organisation taking over the assets,' he said. 'Then it's inflexible. If we can't reshape services, we fail.'

Dr Holden said the White Paper lacked clarity on premises and premises funding, and called for more detail.

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