The first PFI hospital scheme undertaken since the procurement method was reviewed by the Department of Health is due to come to the market next month.

A senior Department of Health source confirmed that the £280m acute hospital in Southmead, Bristol, should invite bids from contractors within two months.

The source said: “The health trust has indicated it is ready to go to market.”

Hospital PFI schemes coming onto the market have been put on hold since December while the Department of Health reviews whether or not they represent value for money. A spokesperson for the North Bristol NHS Trust said that the department had given “encouraging verbal feedback” during the review, suggesting that the scheme will not be re-scoped.

The spokesperson added: “We are waiting for the announcement from the Department of Health on whether or not we can go for PFI, but we are hoping to go to the market by late summer.”

The hospital trust is also known to have held discussions with potential bidders over the past few weeks, suggesting it was confident the scheme would get the go-ahead.

The health trust has indicated that it is ready to go to market

Department of health source

According to a source close to the project, the trust has met with “seven or eight” contractors. These are believed to include Bovis Lend Lease, Laing O’Rourke, Skanska and Carillion.

The London office of US-based architect NBBJ is working on the broad design of the hospital for the client. The timetable for the project is for construction to start in 2008/09 and finish by 2013.

If the advertisement for expressions of interest appears in the Official Journal of the European Union in August, it will mean that the review will have put the project only four months behind schedule.

The news is a second boost in a fortnight for firms interested in NHS work, as health secretary Patricia Hewitt announced last week that £750m will be ploughed into setting up more than 50 community hospitals across the UK.