THE SCRAMBLE to win a re-bid £70 million Private Finance Initiative healthcare deal in the West Midlands has intensified with news that six teams have pre-qualified to pitch for the scheme.
In all, 42 firms bid the second time around for the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust project.
The six prequalifiers face several stages of negotiations and short-listing before a winner is announced in December.
Three contenders will be omitted in April, and a further team will be knocked out in the summer, leaving just two to fight for the contract.
The scheme will involve the building of new facilities at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley and the closure of Wordsley Hospital in Stourbridge.
Two out-patient centres at Corbett Hospital in Stourbridge and Guest Hospital in Dudley will also be constructed.
Work on the project will start in 2000 and is expected to last three years.
The job has been dogged by delays since firms first expressed interest in it two years ago.
Then, 38 companies pitched for the work and three consortia, featuring Laing, Shepherd and Alfred McAlpine, were eventually short-listed for the job.
The scheme became a casualty of the government's review of PFI hospital projects in 1997.
But in early 1998 the project was resurrected and firms were again invited to pre-qualify.
Amec/Balfour Beatty (jv).
Catalyst Healthcare, (Bovis/WS Atkins/Societe Generale).
Enterprise Healthcare, (Alfred McAlpine/Gardner Merchant).
Summit Healthcare (Sir Robert McAlpine/Building and Property Group/British Linen Bank).