NHS managers are being asked to help raise funds for the health service by identifying disused land that can be sold off, the government has said.
Trusts have been asked by Deputy NHS Chief Executive David Flory to look for excess land that can be used to build affordable houses or other developments on.
All the funds raised through sales will go on to benefit patient services within the NHS, according to the Department of Health (DH).
Trusts are certain to reinvest the money in patient care because of "financial accounting procedures", a DH spokesman added.
The DH also revealed that around 8% of space in the NHS is not fully used.
Over the next five years this could be worth £2.5bn or around 50,000 nurses, it added.
Health Minister Simon Burns said: "If we want to modernise the NHS and make it more efficient, then we need to be proactive and identify land that is no longer used or needed.
"Any money raised from surplus land will be used to benefit patients."
Copyright Press Association 2011