NHS chiefs in Worcestershire are poised to sell off assets to save cash and avoid cuts to frontline services.

A review is under way into the estate of Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust which manages community hospitals like Malvern and Evesham and mental health services, including Newtown Hospital and the Hadley Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Worcester.

The trust operates from 158 buildings, spread over more than 120 sites, but has a maintenance backlog of about £14 million.

Operational costs alone are about £16 million a year.

At a trust board meeting, health chiefs said they hoped the sell-off would save £2 million a year.

Of the properties operated by the trust: l 43 per cent are freehold and considered important to the trust.

l 28 per cent are held on licence and considered unimportant to the trust.

l 19 per cent are leased or held on licence and generally relate to GPs and community nurses.

l 10 per cent are leased and considered important to the trust.

l Of the 84 buildings (53 per cent of the estate) considered important to the trust, half show minor signs of deterioration and 42 per cent will need major repairs or replacement within the next three years.

The trust is also looking to better use 49 properties, which are not fully used every day.

Trust chairman Chris Burdon said: “I think we do possibly need to start a bit of work looking at working practices and whether we want to continue to have district nurses meeting as teams as often as they do or whether we want our staff to be mobile and get away from this ‘return to base’ issue. All those things are in the mix and need to be considered.”

Investigations by the trust show that 10 buildings (20 per cent of key properties) are underused.

Simon Trickett, director of strategy and business development, said a list of buildings which may be underused or needed to be considered for sale would be discussed at the trust’s next meeting in March before a wider consultation takes place.

The Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust was formed out of a merger between the old mental health trust, now dissolved, and the provider arm of NHS Worcestershire.

Combining the two trusts creates more opportunities for integrating separate services in the same units.

The trust is also exploring ways of working closely with other organisations which may have an impact on how the estate is used.