Contractors have expressed their shock after Laing O’Rourke was dropped from the Procure 21+ healthcare framework this week, despite being the biggest player in its forerunner with £1bn of work, writes Andrew Hankinson.

On Tuesday, the government revealed the six firms that have won places on the six-year framework that replaces Procure 21. The winners are incumbents Balfour Beatty, Integrated Health Projects (Sir Robert McAlpine and Vinci), Interserve and Kier, and newcomers Healthcare Partnership Solutions (Miller) and Willmott Dixon.

It was a tight bid but It must be like losing the European Cup

Industry source

Of the eight firms on the original seven-year framework, Bam, Laing O’Rourke and Medicinq (Simons Group and Osborne) all failed to make the grade and will miss out on the expected shared pot of £300m per year. The other incumbent, Costain, pulled out of the race last October.

A source at one of the winning firms said: “I’m shocked about Laing O’Rourke and Bam. It was a tight bid but it must be like losing the European Cup.”

Another said Laing O’Rourke and Bam’s omission was a “big surprise” given their involvement to date.

Laing O’Rourke was the biggest player on the original framework, having won a quarter of the £4bn of work let. The next biggest was Interserve with about £650m, then Kier (£500m) and Bam (£400m).

Laing O’Rourke declined to comment, but a spokesperson for Bam said: “We are very disappointed. We will be seeking to understand why we have not been successful on this occasion and to learn from this.”

According to a source close to the selection process, Willmott Dixon scored top marks of 81 out of 100 in the rating. The lowest score for an unnamed team was 65. Willmott Dixon declined to comment.

Procure21+, which begins on 1 October, was originally expected to provide about £600m of work a year, but contractors now expect to share a pot of £300m.