Strategic Estates Partnerships  ("SEP") are emerging as a new model which aims to maximise value from the NHS estate and to align it more closely with clinical strategy. Bevan Brittan has advised on four out of the five SEPs that have recently been established and we are currently advising on all three SEPs in procurement.

If you are considering embarking on a SEP or you are interested in finding out more about the model and the value it can add, we would be delighted to meet with you without obligation, to explore this further.

The Challenge

For a number of reasons, including changing models of care, changes in technology, lack of capital to invest in the estate and many NHS organisations inheriting a large and diverse estate (e.g. from the former primary care trusts), many Trusts are left with estate that is not always fit for purpose, is not aligned with the optimal model of care, is not sufficiently flexible and, in many cases, includes surplus estate. However, tackling these issues requires staff resource, capital investment and commercialisation skills (such as property development and management skills). These are not always available to Trusts / Foundation Trusts which understandably wish to focus on their core business of providing care. Augmenting what the Trust has with additional capacity and capability from the private sector is attractive to a growing number of Trusts who are facing not just financial pressures, but pressures to deliver closer integration and out of hospital care.

The Solution

Over the past few years, an increasing number of NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts are looking to partnership solutions to assist with estate strategy. So, what value could a SEP bring?

  • Expertise and innovation to help develop the estate strategy in alignment with the clinical strategy and a plan for implementation
  •  Access to third party investment to deliver estate transformation including new facilities where required
  • Additional resource to drive forward estate solutions and implement the estate strategy
  •  Commerciality in ensuring best value from estate services delivery and supply chains and third party income or capital receipts in respect of any surplus land.

A key benefit of the SEP over a contractual PFI is that the model is flexible, using a rolling partnership plan which can flex over time to reflect changes in estate needs. The SEP model embraces a whole estate solution approach rather than focussing on Trust requirements for individual new facilities. For a SEP partner it is a relatively quick procurement.  

There are opportunities for Trusts to take the role of the SEP even further. For example:

  • A SEP could generate profits to be shared with the Trust from providing services to other public sector bodies in the future, bringing an income to the Trust to be reinvested in clinical services.
  •  A SEP could be procured to take over provision of FM or back office services, potentially on an incremental partnership basis over the term of the partnership.
  •  A SEP could provide innovative solutions in relation to the way that clinical services are delivered for example, assisting the Trust to redesign clinical pathways which may be enabled by estate transformation.

How can Bevan Brittan help?

We have market leading experience of advising both the public and private sector on SEP. We developed the documentation which has become 'standard' in the market for these schemes.

Bevan Brittan has advised on four out of the five SEPs established nationally, including the three SEPs currently in procurement including:

  • Lancashire Care NHS FT - the first SEP to be established in October 2010.
    Cheshire and Wirral NHS FT - advising the Trust from initial scoping through to close in November 2013.
  • Southend University Hospital NHS FT - advising one of the shortlisted bidders through to submission of final bids. Our client is awaiting the outcome of this procurement.
  • University Hospital Southampton NHS FT - advising one of the two final bidders.
    Isle of Wight NHS Trust - advising the Trust, assisting with options appraisals, to initial scoping, drafting documentation and through the competitive dialogue process currently in progress.
  • Yeovil District Hospital NHS FT - advising the Trust, assisting with a soft market sounding exercise, initial scoping, drafting legal and procurement documentation and advising on the competitive dialogue.

Our unparalleled experience on SEP has been recognised through being selected as a finalist for a Health Investors Award 2014 for this work.

We give commercial and pragmatic advice including discussing the range of procurement options available to NHS Trusts – such as considering NHS LIFT which may already be suitable for your requirements without any further procurement exercise (this should be the case if you are in a LIFT area). NHS LIFT can offer a lot more than just new facilities and has many of the benefits of SEP, the clear advantage being that NHS LIFT is already set up in large areas of England.

We advise on all aspects of the contractual and procurement documentation and on the key commercial issues as well as the competitive dialogue process for procuring a SEP partner.

In summary, SEP as the potential to deliver genuine efficiencies and support transformation needed as part of your clinical strategy. It is a very far cry from a contractual PFI with flexible usage once established and the procurement can be structured in order to select a partner relatively quickly and cheaply. Experience to date shows a maturing and growing market of providers who have the capacity and capability to respond positively. 

We would be delighted to meet with you, without obligation to discuss the model further and would be very happy to support you on a "soft market sounding" exercise to help inform the Trust about how the structure could be used for your Trust and the appetite in the market from possible partners.

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