Pearce may leave NHS Estates programme as framework contractors complain about not getting enough work

Contractor Pearce may leave its position on the framework for the government’s multibillion-pound healthcare building programme, Procure21, after struggling to make schemes profitable.

The news comes amid increasing frustration from contractors on the 12-strong framework with the NHS trusts, the procurement process and the amount of work coming through.

Pearce, which leads the Medicor consortium, has not won a contract under the Procure21 framework agreement since the scheme’s six-month pilot ended and it was rolled out nationally more than a year ago. It is understood that Pearce has struggled with the affordability of six schemes it won during the pilot phase.

Andrew Dale Harris, business development director at Pearce, said the firm was “looking to review its position concerning Procure21”.

Dale Harris added that he would be meeting Peter Woolliscroft, NHS Estates’ head of construction, to discuss a number of issues, including the culture of collaboration with NHS trusts and the streamlining of the process.

Woolliscroft confirmed that the Medicor consortium had been called in to discuss its performance. He said: “We will need to see if they are adding value to their supply-chain management and, if not, address that.”

Woolliscroft said that Procure 21 was a vehicle for getting work but that the money was decided by the strategic health authority and primary care trusts. He said: “Some contractors whinge that they are not being given work on a plate and they will have to make a decision about whether they stay or go. They need to be innovative and they need to come to terms with it.”

Some contractors whinge they are not being given work on a plate

Peter Woolliscroft, NHS Estates

Procure21 is intended to be used on any publicly funded healthcare scheme worth more than £1m and is estimated to be worth between £1.2bn and £1.4bn a year. However, it is understood that only 100 of the 500 NHS trusts have signed up to the scheme, and large contractors such as Balfour Beatty and Wates have won minimal work.

Many contractors have been frustrated with the procurement process. Stephen Parsk, Procure21 director at Balfour Beatty, said that his firm had been at a disadvantage as it had not been on the pilot process and did not have as much experience as rival contractors on the framework.

He said: “We have had a lot of second places when bidding. Now we need to turn those second places into first places and win contracts.”

Chris Bridger, Procure21 customer director at Taylor Woodrow, said that less work had been coming through than firms had hoped for. He said: “It is taking longer than expected to get schemes approved.”

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