The NHS could save more than £1 billion from the cost of running its estate and could raise an additional £1bn in capital land sales, according to a new report from consultancy EC Harris.
The second annual NHS Service and Estate Efficiency Report, entitled Seizing the Opportunity, identified more than 2 million sq m of empty or underused space across the estate.
It also found management costs of operating the estate still varied too widely between similar trusts.
EC Harris said things had improved since the inaugural report last year but there was “still significant opportunity for improvement”.
The total amount of underused or empty space is down by nearly a third from more than 3 million sq m in 2008/9 to 2.1m sq m in 2009/10.
The current unused space represents 7.4 per cent of the total NHS estate and is the same size as the entire footprint of both Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
EC Harris partner Conor Ellis said: “Like any system undergoing so much change, this is a testing time for the NHS.
“There may be many months spent fine tuning the current Health Bill, not least due to the intensifying opposition, but this should not stop legitimate and necessary changes being made to reduce expenditure on the NHS estate and to improve service delivery.”