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Only 18 firms remain for ProCure 21+

Less than a third of the 59 contractors that expressed an interest in the £4 billion ProCure 21+ framework returned prequalification questionnaires, it has emerged.

A huge battle was expected for places on the six-year health capital investment framework after a deluge of expressions of interest flooded in over the summer.

But next week’s shortlist of up to 15 names will be less hard-fought, after just 18 PQQs were submitted. One source told Construction News: “The PQQ process was comprehensive, and the idea was that you could fail the test by failing on one question. So only 18 returned the forms, and how many of those passed the test? We could well see a shortlist of less than 15 names.”

Just eight contractors are on the existing ProCure 21 framework, which will be replaced by ProCure 21+ in September 2010. They are Balfour Beatty; Costain; Bam Construct; Sir Robert McAlpine with Vinci; Interserve; Kier; Laing O’Rourke; and Medicinq led by Midas.

All are thought to have submitted PQQs for ProCure 21+, with the exception of Costain, which opted to focus on opportunities in other sectors.

The huge appetite for public sector frameworks during the recession was highlighted earlier this year when 57 firms filled out PQQs for the £4bn academies framework.

Partnerships for Schools has since appointed 15 firms to that agreement. But some notable names were not on the list, including Skanska, Laing O’Rourke, Morgan Ashurst, Galliford Try and Miller.

Morgan Ashurst and Skanska are understood to have submitted PQQs for ProCure 21+. Meanwhile, some contractors that did make the academies list are also understood to have sized up ProCure 21+, with Shepherd joining the Medicinq consortium and Wates also throwing its hat in the ring.

The chosen firms will enter a closed battle for up to £750m of health work per year. Another source said: “I think most businesses would want to be on this framework. But the PQQ was certainly very tough and required a lot of evidence-based answers.”

ProCure 21+ will vary from its predecessor by:

  • Placing greater emphasis on the assurance of the build standards, and the sustainability of outcomes;
  • Meeting the requirements of the new and changing NHS landscape;
  • Enhancing the framework management to improve the quality of delivery.

While it is thought the rigours of the PQQ process put off many interested parties, there has also been speculation that NHS trusts will look to procure work outside the framework.

Invitations to tender will be given on 13 November, with a maximum of 12 firms being appointed to the framework in the spring.