The NHS has spent nearly £4m paying property tax on vacant buildings in just three years, official figures reveal.
Dozens of hospitals, more than 15 doctors’ practices and nursing homes and 22 office blocks are empty, according to NHS Property Services statistics.
The figure, uncovered by a TaxPayers’ Alliance freedom of information request, could pay for about 120 young doctors or 140 newly qualified nurses.
The NHS values the derelict property, made up of 77 buildings, at £40m.
Calling the findings “shocking” to taxpayers, experts today urged the health service to “quickly sell these sites.”
Derelict properties include Bootham Park Hospital, a former mental hospital in Yorkshire, and Guisborough General Hospital in Cleveland. The west gate annex of Edgware Community Hospital and the meadow suite at Babington Hospital in Derbyshire are among other closed sites
According to FOI data, the health service paid £1.2m in property taxes on buildings in 2020/21, the first year of the pandemic, when the NHS was hit by a rise in taxes. Covid admissions, along with illness and staff burnout.
The sum came to £1.5 million in 2021/22.
In 2022/23 around £1.2m of property tax was recorded.
Of the 77 sites, 50 have been identified for sale, with an estimated market value of around £40 million.
The remaining 27 sites remain “subject to strategic review for future NHS requirements,” according to NHS Property Services.
Nearly two-thirds (47) of the sites were parts of hospitals, health centers, or nursing homes.
One empty site, at Corbett Hospital in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, is even listed as a swimming pool.
Other derelict properties include Bootham Park Hospital, a former mental hospital in Yorkshire, and Guisborough General Hospital, in Cleveland.
The west gate annex of Edgware Community Hospital and the meadow suite at Babington Hospital in Derbyshire are among other closed sites.
NHS Property Services was initially established in 2013 to manage properties on behalf of 150 now-abolished Primary Care Trusts and 10 Strategic Health Authorities.
It now manages around 2,700 assets across England.
A key aspect of the agency’s mandate is to use ‘the scale of the company and the effective management of its portfolio to keep costs to a minimum and return savings to the NHS’.
The health service, which receives more than £150bn a year, spends just under 43 per cent paying around 1.2m full-time equivalent employees.
The rest is spent on prescribing medicines to patients, administration, primary care and procurement, including controversial Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals, costing hundreds of millions of pounds in interest payments alone.
Labour’s failed PFI contracts, extended to the NHS when he was last in power, saw private companies pay for the construction of new hospitals, with trusts paying for them for 30 years or more, with interest.
Hospitals are currently paying more than £2 billion a year as part of the deal.
HM Treasury data shows the NHS will receive £151.8bn for 2022/23 and £157.4bn in the following year.
For comparison, the NHS was allocated £129.7bn in the first year of the pandemic, topped up with a further £18bn to help with Covid pressures.
The NHS spends around £150 billion a year, of which just under 43 per cent is spent on staff salaries. Chart shows: A pie chart of Department of Health and Social Care revenue spending on the NHS (left) in 2019/20 and areas where spending is seen to have been wasted (right)
HM Treasury data shows the annual budget of the NHS. In 2020/21, the NHS received £129.7bn of core funding for its regular services, which was supplemented by an additional £18bn to help with pandemic pressures. For 2021/22, the Treasury said the health service received £136.1bn of core funding, as well as £3bn to help with the Covid recovery. The health service has been allocated £151.8bn for 2022/23 and £157.4bn for 2023/34. The Autumn Statement completed these figures at £3.3 billion each.
Joe Ventre, TaxPayers’ Alliance digital campaign manager, told MailOnline: ‘Taxpayers will be shocked by the number of empty buildings on the health service’s books.
“These properties are vacant and cost the NHS a penny in trading fees, all at a time when waiting lists are filling up.”
He added: “Health chiefs need to quickly sell off these sites if they are not going to be put back into use.”
An NHS Property Services spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘NHS Property Services owns and manages almost 3,000 healthcare buildings in England.
‘Only 77 of these are currently vacant and have been declared surplus to requirements by local NHS commissioners.
“There are plans for these sites to be mostly sold with the proceeds reinvested or returned to clinical use.”
They added: ‘Our team have a track record of securing the best value for the NHS when sites are removed, securing £115.6 million over the last three years to reinvest in NHS services.
‘During the last three years we have reduced the vacant space on our farm by 50,000 square metres.
“While properties are vacant, we constantly seek to minimize business fees through mitigation and waiver where appropriate, such as empty fee relief.”
It comes as a damning report from the public spending watchdog in June also revealed that the health service has more staff and money than ever before, but is less efficient.
An investigation by the National Audit Office found that patient satisfaction and access to urgent treatment is “getting worse”, with long delays for ambulances and emergencies.
He warned that improving services will be a “significant challenge,” largely because delays in discharging medically fit patients mean bed occupancy is too high.