Contractors shortlisted for the £300m pilots of Procure 21 have been assured by NHS Estates that preferred bidders will be selected in by 12 April.
Several contractors have attacked the selection process as long-winded. But NHS Estates has written to the bidders to assure them that the selection process has a deadline.

Peter Wearmouth, acting chief executive of NHS Estates, said the reform was gathering pace because of the reorganisation of the NHS. This week, strategic health authorities replaced the hundreds of local health authorities and regional offices that existed across the country.

The two pilot schemes, in north-west England and the West Midlands, cover construction contracts worth £1-20m. They are to be carried out by five framework contractors in each region.

The programme was formally launched in April 2000 and is set out in the government document Sold on Health. There are 12 contractors on the shortlist, including Kier, Amec, Mowlem, Laing and Skanska.