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Healthy new towns – a model for private-public partnerships

4 Mar 2017

The Healthy New Towns initiative (launched in March 2016) could be a role model of how NHSE meets the government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) requirements. With a focus on putting primary care into the heart of new communities, and helping people to live healthier lives for longer at home, Healthy New Towns tick many of the STP’s boxes.

One exciting element of this is private sector involvement and how both private and public sectors can partner to achieve these new initiatives. With a focus on ‘designing in’ health and ‘designing out’ the obesogenic environment, developers can do more than provide affordable housing but also improve residents’ long-term health outcomes.

Challenges for STPs

The most significant challenge for the STP areas is finance. Since the GP Forward View was first published in October 2014, there has been a sharp decline in financial and operational performance and many are wondering where the funds needed to implement STPs will come from. Currently most of the additional funding identified in the 2015 Spending Review is being used to keep services afloat, not to deliver transformation.

In the medium to long term, new care models have the potential to address financial and operational pressures. By increasing services delivered through primary and community care NHSE will save money; reducing expensive acute visits and reducing demand for services with early intervention. But investment is needed now to build the infrastructure to deliver financial and operational savings in the future.

While it is anticipated that under the STP process the level of spend will increase to about 11% of NHSE budget – more than a 50% rise in the amount of spend currently available – how will this money be diverted from acute / secondary care to primary and community care?

A recent King’s Fund report analysing all 44 STPs, warns that without extra investment, moving care closer to home is not ‘credible’ when hospitals are already running at full capacity. That said, the report does state that ‘STPs offer the best hope for the NHS and its partners to sustain services and transform the delivery of health and care.’

A Great Opportunity To Get Healthcare Right

Much of the planned changes to the delivery of services cannot be achieved without significant infrastructure redesign and development. This is where the Healthy New Towns initiative is working well. While the fragmentation of estate ownership is a barrier to the successful implementation of STPs in many cases, Healthy New Towns can build communities around health and care services.

Partnerships between private sector developers and primary care providers are also helping STPs to navigate around funding pressures; and the Healthy New Towns initiative is demonstrating how this can be achieved. Already many STP areas are exploring alternative ways of funding GP premises, looking for healthcare investment from the private sector as well as the NHS England’s Estates and Technology Transformation Fund (ETTF).

I think that the ten Healthy New Towns demonstrator sites have the potential to provide STPs with a model of how to integrate health and care services into the community; and how public and private partnerships can both meet and reduce demand by providing sustainable health care solutions.

Octopus Healthcare – with our extensive experience of retirement, care, and GP property development – is a prime example of a private sector organisation working with the public sector to meet the challenges of providing health and care services in the local community.


Octopus Property and Octopus Healthcare merged to form Octopus Real Estate.

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