NHS framework forced to extend tender period after ‘very healthy response’ from industry

The NHS has delayed shortlisting firms firms for its Procure 21+ framework after being swamped with applications. This will mean that the tender period for the replacement to Procure 21 will be extended over Christmas.

Prequalification questionnaires for Procure 21+ were submitted on 17 September and should have been evaluated by the 29th in time for a shortlist to be announced on 22 October. But the Department of Health said it had received “a very healthy response” and would not be presenting a shortlist until 11 November.

Invitations to tender will be issued to a maximum of 15 candidates on 13 November; these will be due to be returned by 19 January. Contracts will then be signed on 21 May 2010.

The news comes as industry health experts are reporting that a growing number of NHS trusts are delaying choosing contractors and consultants because they have so many to choose from.

There are 50% more expressions of interest than two or three years ago

Paul Coomber, Davis Langdon

Paul Coomber, a partner at Davis Langdon, said: “There are at least 50% more expressions of interest than two or three years ago. One project took so long that we thought it was dead until we got a call to say we’d won.”

He added that one NHS trust said it had received more than 280 responses from firms trying to win work, instead of the usual 50-80 bids.

Another director of health at a consultancy said at least four trusts had delayed decisions by four or more months this year. “Firms are all trying to get a bite of the healthcare apple,” he said.

Coomber also warned that trusts had started to retender work won by firms unable to deliver on “suicide bids”.