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NHS land sale a surprise to staff

PUBLISHED: 19:18 10 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:46 02 March 2010

A POPULAR social club could be sold off to make way for affordable housing – but bosses have not told staff.

The Department of Health will transfer a portfolio of surplus NHS sites across the country to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, under a new agreement announced yesterday.

A POPULAR social club could be sold off to make way for affordable housing - but bosses have not told staff.

The Department of Health will transfer a portfolio of surplus NHS sites across the country to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, under a new agreement announced yesterday.

The land will be used to tackle housing shortages for key workers, money raised from the sale of the sites will be pumped back into the NHS.

But at one of the sites, St Clements Social Club in Ipswich, staff have not been told of the possible move.

David Spink, club manager, said that the facility employs several full and part-time staff, and has wedding bookings until 2005.

Built more than 30 years ago, it boasts football pitches, squash courts and a bowls green, along with a bar for health authority employees.

He added: "I don't know what to say. It's a facility for the health authority staff and there's nowhere else really in the area.

"Sometimes these things don't always happen - they might have included it on the list, and nothing comes of it."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The list is still under discussion - they are yet to agree an exact list, so some of the sites may not be transferred.

"It is very early days. A decision was made not to tell staff until the transfer was confirmed."

Nationally, a total of 1,650 hectares of land is to be transferred, which is expected to pave the way for more than 15,000 new homes.

Announcing the move, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: "This deal shows our determination to deliver more affordable homes where they are needed most, especially for key workers and young families.

"It will unlock major brownfield sites, secure more than 15,000 new homes, and kick start regeneration as part of a comprehensive programme to create thriving and sustainable communities across all regions of England.

"I want the developments which take place on these important sites to be exemplar projects leading the way in demonstrating best practice in creating genuinely sustainable communities."

John Reid, Health Secretary, added: "This will benefit the NHS in two ways at the same time.

"An injection of cash, and a valuable contribution to the provision of key worker accommodation in the areas where it is need most.

"Staff are the public sector's greatest asset, and it is vital that we work across Government departments to provide them with the opportunity to live and work where they choose and where the need to recruit is the greatest."


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