The government’s attempts to push through the biggest reorganisation of the NHS in decades have ruffled a lot of feathers; little wonder that answering contractors’ questions about what the changes would mean for the procurement of capital works has not been at the top of ministers’ list of priorities.
We know that primary care trusts are to be abolished in 2013 and that family doctors will take over the commissioning of local health services - but who will procure new care centres and the like? Some existing assets are likely to be taken over by foundation trusts, which run hospitals and provide mental health facilities - but what about the rest?
This week it has emerged, via an exclusive story in CN’s sister title Health Service Journal, that the Department of Health looks likely to set up a ‘PropCo’ which it will own, and which will take over the management of the NHS’s primary care estate.
This means it will take over buildings such as community hospitals and offices once the PCTs are shut down. The PropCo will also take ownership of the public shares of assets built under the Local Improvement Finance Trust scheme.
The changes are likely to present opportunities for contractors, and others in the private sector, to get involved through management contracts or joint ventures. And, as we highlight this week, facilities management is proving good business for contractors that have branched out.
While public spending will remain tight, some new buildings, refurb and refit work is inevitable. And, with NHS facilities and estate managers looking likely to transfer to the new company, existing relationships and those formed in the interim may prove invaluable.