NHS ESTATES is speeding up the ProCure 21 programme by cutting back the prequalification process from three to two stages.
ProCure 21 has suffered from multiple delays since it was announced in April last year after NHS Estates made continual changes to the way its primary supply chain partners would be chosen.
Pilot schemes in the North-West and West Midlands were finally advertised in April this year - more than four months late.
But now contractors currently filling out prequalification questionnaires have been given the good news that the initial threestage method of choosing firms has been reduced to a two-stage process.
Under earlier plans contractors were expected to pass a loose prequalification test to ensure that they were capable of handling the work.
NHS Estates would then select a smaller group to go through an economic test to see how the firms would price the pilot schemes.
A final group would then be picked for evaluation of their capabilities before a decision on the winning firms.
Now the role of prequalification has been tightened, demanding more information from contractors. This will allow NHS Estates to move from prequalification to contract award in only one step, shaving months off the timetable for the pilot schemes.
NHS Estates now expects to have supply chain partners in place by spring next year.
One bidder said: 'It's a costlier and more demanding prequalification than we'd been expecting, but if it means getting things moving then that can only be a good thing. Otherwise you run the risk of dragging it out and teams becoming disenchanted with the whole deal.'
The ProCure 21 route will see a framework agreement between NHS Estates and a principal supply chain partner to carry out all traditional NHS building contracts over £1 million and all Private Finance Initiatives health schemes between £1 and £20 million.
The combined value of PFI and traditional work in the pilots has been estimated at £300 million over the four-year contract period.