COMMERCIAL: Serco Group has been selected as preferred bidder for a contract to provide integrated facilities management services to East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust.

The contract, which is expected to be signed in the next few weeks and is due to start in July 2012, has a total estimated value of approximately £140m over 10 years.

It comprises an initial seven-year period and a maximum three-year extension, according to Serco.

Around 700 people will be employed on the contract, the majority of which will be transferred from the existing provider, Medirest, and the trust with their terms and conditions protected.

Serco will deliver a range of services to the trust’s three acute hospitals, two community hospitals and several small clinics in the East Kent area.

In addition to cleaning and patient catering, Serco will be responsible for ward housekeeping, retail services, portering, security, switchboard, helpdesk, staff accommodation, pest control and waste management.

Liz Shutler, the trust’s director of capital planning and strategic development, said “We were not just looking for value for money, but improved levels of service and innovation for the benefit of our patients.

“In particular we believe the introduction of ward housekeepers, as the link between clinical staff and cleaning staff, will further improve the services we offer our patients across the trust. The new contract will also make greater use of new technology and the introduction of a new centralised helpdesk should make it much easier to manage the resources to best effect.”