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ProCure 21+ contractors must perform or be frozen out by NHS

ProCure 21 programme manager Ray Stephenson has warned that contractors underperforming on the new £4 billion framework face being frozen out of NHS work.

Scores of the industry’s biggest names are expected to put themselves forward for places on the ProCure 21+ framework.

The selected contractors will able to fight among themselves for up to £750 million of health work per year for six years.

But Mr Stephenson told delegates at the Construction News Healthcare Construction conference in central London last week that there would be no cosy club mentality.

He said: “I want to make it clear to Principle Supply Chain Partners that if they do not deliver on this framework then we will boot them off it.

“If contractors consistently do not deliver then they will not be on the framework any more.”

He added that contractors thrown off ProCure 21+ could find it hard to win work on other public health projects.

“The NHS employs more than 1 million people but it is a very small family. Once someone gets a reputation, that spreads around Trusts,” he said. “This impacts on PSCPs – and some of them are just learning that now.”

Mr Stephenson conceded that some Trusts were looking to tender work individually during the recession to get cheaper bids. But he insisted he was winning the battle to persuade them to stick with frameworks.

He said: “We do hear Trusts saying ‘Why work with frameworks in this climate? We’ll tender traditionally and get lower costs.’

“But I tell them ‘Yes you’ll get lower costs – you’ll also encounter all the difficulties of the past. Traditional procurement would lead to a claims culture, and the legals will be more interested in your sites than if you used ProCure 21.’”

He added: “I believe we are winning this battle.”

The £4 billion ProCure 21+ framework went into OJEU last month, with the deadline for expressions of interest midday on 9 July. It is understood 15 contractors will be shortlisted for the framework, and a maximum of 12 selected for places on it.

The framework will replace the existing ProCure 21 framework in September 2010. Mr Stephenson said ProCure 21+ would put more emphasis on sustainable outcomes, training and value for money.

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