New Harness Block proposal to be assessed

A PROPOSAL for the Harness Block at Southlands Hospital is being assessed.

The deadline for local public sector organisations to submit a viable bid was ‘close of play’ Monday.

A spokesman for Western Sussex NHS Foundation Trust said any proposals received would be assessed to check they met the qualifying criteria for a priority provider.

“These are that they are an NHS organisation or another that provides health or social care under an NHS contract, or – in the absence of either of these – that they are another public sector organisation wanting the building for its own use,” he added.

“There are also a range of minimum requirements that must be met around their commitment to and the funding and deliverability of the proposals presented.”

It was confirmed one expression of interest had been received by the foundation trust.

Paul Hatcher, director of estates and facilities, said: “We have received one formal expression of interest from a party interested in buying the Harness Block and its peripheral buildings, and seeking to be classified as a priority purchaser.

“This submission will now be assessed, and during that assessment process, the trust will liaise with the interested party, as required.”

If it the bid is found to meet these qualifications, the trust will move on to agree terms of sale and the bidder will have to carry out ‘due diligence’, etc, before the purchase goes ahead.

But if the bid does not qualify, the trust will then look to a commercial sale of that part of the site, as per Department of Health requirements.

The process will have no bearing on the rheumatology and rehabilitation block, or the remainder of the land at Southlands Hospital.

The trust will continue to provide services from, and invest in, the remainder of the site.

The trust spokesman added: “The trust will push ahead with its plans to establish a new centre for eye care at Southlands and continue to provide and develop a wide range of other existing services at the hospital, including outpatient clinics and day surgery.”

The trust board declared the Harness Block and peripheral buildings surplus to requirements back in April.

The development came more than a year after the last trust inpatients were moved out of the block, to new wards in Worthing Hospital.