Department of Health says Procure 21 + will remain but says in future focus will be on making use of existing buildings rather than building new ones

The Department of Health has denied that the procurement of new hospitals is under review, following changes to the planned shake-up of the NHS, announced this week.

The comments follow concern that hospital procurement routes, such as the £750m-a-year Procure 21+ framework, may be under review at the department.

A spokesperson for the department said that under plans laid out this week, responsibility for identifying the need for new hospitals, currently held by primary care trusts (PCT), will move to clinical commissioning groups (CCG) when PCTs are abolished in April 2013.

Clinical commissioning groups, which may or may not be GP-led, will only take control if they are ready, with responsibility otherwise passing to the central NHS commissioning board.

Procure 21+ is not under review. It will, however, be about making the best use of existing space

NHS spokesperson

However, the spokesman said there would in future be more emphasis on improving existing premises rather than building new ones.

“If you run the services in your area and identify a particular need, then the CCGs will be able to push this up to Procure 21+ as the PCTs do today,” he said.
“Procure 21+ is not under review. The NHS in future will, however, be about making the best use of existing space rather than new buildings.”

The politically-driven changes are only the latest shake-up to the health white paper likely to stall new-build projects.

Mike Magrath, a director at Gleeds, warned that significant new projects would be on hold because it was still not clear exactly how healthcare was going to be decentralised, and to what extent this would see fewer large hospitals being built.

“The concern is that until [the government] gets an organisational structure, the major decisions on how to provide for the community won’t be made,” he said.