The first set of projects to go through the ProCure 21+ framework will be open to bids within weeks, according to programme manager Ray Stephenson.
The health capital works framework, which could be worth up to £4.5 billion over six years, came into operation on 1 October.
More than 50 contractors registered an initial interest in the agreement, but the six that finally secured places have been left to sweat over how much work will actually flow through it.
Mr Stephenson said at a Construction News conference in London this week: “Most of the big PFI hospitals have been built. But there is a lot of maintenance and refurbishment work needed to keep standards up over the next six years.
“There will be opportunities. There are a number of schemes ready to start, and in the next few weeks you will see some schemes hitting the postboxes.”
ProCure 21 incumbents Balfour Beatty, Interserve, Kier and Sir Robert McAlpine/Vinci all made the highly sought-after replacement.
They are joined on ProCure 21+ by Miller and Willmott Dixon. Mr Stephenson called on the two newcomers to add some zest to the framework.
“We have appointed contractors on very, very keen rates due to the current climate,” he said. “I hope that those who are new to the framework bring in some innovation.”
He also warned all six firms on the framework they had to provide one point of contact for ProCure 21+ schemes across the country, rather than relying on regional offices. “Someone at board level has to take responsibility for national performance. We have made that quite clear.”
Mr Stephenson said long-term partnering through frameworks was critical to maintaining clean projects during the period of reduced capital budgets.
“I sense some parts of the industry are going back to how they used to operate,” he said. “If you go for lowest cost procurement then legal claims will creep back in.”