With primary healthcare provision changing radically as pressures grow on the NHS, GPs are looking increasingly at new ways of delivering improved and more joined up patient services, according to Frank Convery, Principal at commercial real estate services firm Avison Young.
One such route, which is being embraced by GP practices in Somerset, is to allow a specialist investor to take the freehold of the GPs’ property, so releasing the equity held in bricks and mortar for further investment, and then leasing the property back to either the GPs or an organisation linked to a local hospital.
“By implementing a sale and leaseback, medical practices are finding they have much greater flexibility to provide the services that meet the requirements of today’s primary care,” continues Frank. “Somerset is a vanguard area for NHS England and is without a doubt pioneering new ways of delivering healthcare in the community.”
The most recent GP partnership in Somerset to complete a sale and leaseback arrangement is the Creech Medical Centre in Taunton. Avison Young has negotiated the sale of the health centre investment to Alpha Capital a specialist Infrastructure fund, as part of its own ongoing strategy to invest in healthcare real estate assets nationally.
From 1st April 2019, the Creech Medical Centre now becomes part of the Primary Care Directorate of Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, and the GPs become leaseholders of the medical centre. This new relationship means the practice will be able to access more resources from Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, allowing the GPs to ensure the sustainability of the practice.
This is one of a number of similar investment arrangements, approved by NHS England where Avison Young has advised GP surgeries over recent months, as Somerset continues to be at the forefront of delivering healthcare to patients.
The Vine Street Surgery in Street has recently sold the investment in its practice to Assura plc, with the GPs taking on the lease. In Martock, Somerton and Stoke Sub Hamdon, Avison Young has advised on the sale of the investment again to Assura but in this instance with Symphony Healthcare Services, part of Yeovil Hospital as leaseholder, allowing even greater collaboration and integration between the Acute Hospital and the GP primary care sides and delivering on the recently published NHS Long Term Plan which sets out the vision for general practice in the next 10 years with the emphasis on a move from secondary care to primary and community care.
Frank concludes, “With an acute shortage of GPs in Somerset, and almost 1/3 of GPs either retiring or giving up early, this new arrangement gives practices access to management and administrative services that makes their practices more sustainable and allows them to take positive steps towards providing excellent healthcare provision for their patients.”