Its almost 20 years now since the Samaritan Hospital for Women was closed on the Marylebone Road and you have to ask what the hell is going on?
In 1948 the Hospital joined the NHS, becoming affiliated to St Mary’s Hospital. It was renamed the Samaritan Hospital for Women. In 1982 it had 79 beds and in 1987 the Hospital building was listed by English Heritage as Grade II. The Hospital closed in 1997.
So how and who manages these surplus NHS assets? The present disposal of NHS assets is undertaken by NHS Property Services – a limited company, set up in April 2013, wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health to manage, maintain and improve NHS properties and facilities within their portfolio, working in partnership with NHS organisations.
One key part of the company’s role is the efficient management and disposal of properties which are no longer required by the NHS for the delivery of services, ensuring that best value is achieved from any disposal, for reinvestment in the NHS. The decision as to whether properties are surplus to NHS operational requirements resides with commissioners, i.e. NHS England or a clinical commissioning group (CCG). A property will only be released for disposal by NHS Property Services once commissioners have confirmed that it is no longer required for the delivery of NHS services.
NHS Property Services ensures that market value is achieved in the sale of assets through an arm’s length, open market process. Any property to be disposed of is first listed on the Electronic Property Information Mapping Service (ePIMS) website, which allows other public sector bodies to purchase it. Properties are listed on this website for forty working days and if no other public sector organisation expresses an interest then it can be marketed locally NHS Property Services have a vital role as stewards of NHS assets and publish information on disposals as a matter of course.
Whilst at the London Assembly, l did ask NHS England what is happening with the grand building on the Marylebone Road? Please see the response below – quite clearly its owned along with the adjacent Western Eye Hospital by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and earmarked for off-setting redevelopment costs on other major sites.
But does it really take 20 years to sort it out with these buildings which could have been put to good alternative use in the meantime rather than lying empty for so long. Its been so long that developments in Paddington near to St Mary’s Hospital are now being developed like the Cube on the old post office site which would not have been anticipated to make a substantial contribution to the funds of Imperial for redevelopment. This potential makes available the resources released for this site on the running costs of NHS locally in City of Westminster and West Central during the present winter crisis.
During all those 20 years as well, no proposed scheme has been submitted through planning at City of Westminster. Other publicly owned sites like the Westminster Magistrate Court site in the next block along Marylebone Road have been fully developed as a new home for the Courts in Central London and residential scheme.
Now thats a thought that could focus the minds of the property managers of the NHS after 20 years of doing nothing much on the site and a winter crisis begging for more resources for our social care. What ever options are pursued eventually, this grand old building is probably worth 10’s of millions, a princely sum no one could have imagined in the middle of the 19th century.