Contractors looking to win a place on Procure 21+, the NHS’ revised major scheme framework, must undertake to pay subcontractors within 30 days

Cliff Jones, the senior policy and performance manager of Procure 21, issued the caution to an audience of senior executives at the Delivering Future Healthcare Estates conference hosted by Building last week.

He also warned firms that they would have to inform the NHS in advance of all changes in their supply chains and collaborate with other framework members.

Jones said there would be “consequences” if contractors’ performance failed at any point, and they would be “thrown off the framework” if they failed to rectify it.

The deadline for expressions of interest in Procure 21+ is 9 July. Hundreds of firms are expected to bid.

We will carry out regular audits and will follow up any companies reported to us

Cliff Jones, Procure 21

The 30-day payment period is laid down in the Office of Government Commerce’s fair payment charter. Jones said: “We will be carrying out regular audits to check payments are being made, and we will follow up any companies reported to us,” he added.

Although this rule is also applied to the existing Procure 21 framework, through which eight principal supply-chain partners have received £3.6bn of work, a framework source said it had not been enforced.

Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group, welcomed the news, but added: “This is encouraging – Procure 21 has been ahead of the game when it comes to promoting best practice. However, if they really want to implement this, they should consider project bank accounts.”