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PFI deal whips up interest


BOUYGUES and Balfour Beatty are set to cross swords over a £303 million Private Finance Initiative health deal in east London.

Industry insiders said the two firms have been shortlisted for the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital.

The construction work for the scheme alone has a £250 million price tag.

Although the shortlist has yet to be agreed by the Department of Health's Private Finance Unit, sources close to the deal say the line-up is unlikely to change.

Bouygues will enter the race buoyed by its appointment in March as preferred bidder on the £120 million redevelopment of Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.While Balfour Beatty's Consort team was one of the three consortia that lost out on the Broomfield deal, the outfit has not been short of recent success.

Consort was named preferred bidder to build and run the £500 million Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham back in January.

The Whipps Cross deal will revamp the current hospital site to provide additional ward space and new accommodation for key workers and medical students.

Current plans allow for a 25 per cent increase in floor space and an 8 per cent increase in the number of beds.

An increase in the number of staff at the site from 2,500 to almost 2,900 will provide care for an additional 15,000 patients every year.

Around 400 key workers and 750 medical students will be housed on the site and a new building will be provided to accommodate South Bank University's Faculty of Education. A 2,000 sq m sports hall is also planned.

Project managers at Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust will be relieved to have lined up two big names after facing competition from several other major PFI health deals including a £300 million scheme in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and a £240 million job on the south coast in Plymouth.

Tender documents are due to go out to the shortlisted consortia by the end of this month.