The value of schemes started under the Procure 21 health framework has almost doubled in the past year, according to exclusive figures from the Department of Health

The statistics, obtained by Building, reveal that 123 schemes worth a total of more than £1.1bn were registered between September 2008 and August 2009, while much of the industry floundered in the downturn.

This compares with 89 schemes registered in 2007/08, worth a total of £671m. In June of this year alone, 23 projects were registered worth a total of £249m, almost as much as in the whole of first year of the framework.

Paul Maitland, director of health at Turner & Townsend, said he believed trusts were speeding up registering schemes before the next election.

“There is a political priority here,” he said. “NHS trusts are trying to get their projects off the ground before the general election. Everyone is worried that if a new government comes in, schemes may be scrapped.”

NHS trusts are trying to get their projects off the ground before the election

Paul Maitland, T&T

He added that fears over cuts in spending had also contributed to the rise in schemes registered. “Trusts are drawing parallels between the announced spending cuts in the Learning and Skills Council and health. It’s hoped the further along projects are, the less likely they are to be shelved.”

The news comes as construction firms prepare to submit their prequalification questionnaires for the Procure 21+ framework; they are due in on 15 September.

This £3bn framework is expected to attract interest from firms including Willmott Dixon, Carillion and Bouygues.

It is understood contractors will be charged for a place on Procure 21+, despite contractors’ hopes this fee might be dropped. It is unclear whether it will match the £170,000 Procure 21 annual fee.