• New construction framework delayed by a year due to pandemic
  • Framework envisaged as main route for buying services for new hospitals
  • Existing suppliers set for Nightingale hospitals work 

Health chiefs have delayed the implementation of a new construction framework linked to the government’s “40 new hospitals” programme, while they focus on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Social Care told suppliers the new Procure 2020 framework will be implemented after the department has dealt with the most extreme pressure caused by the pandemic. 

While it is not yet known when the Procure 2020 framework will be launched, officials have decided to extend the existing P22 framework by a year. This was due to be replaced by Procure 2020 in September. 

It means the NHS is likely to use the six suppliers on P22 for major capital schemes — potentially including work on the new Nightingale hospitals — until some time in 2021. Earlier this week, it emerged Interserve, one of the six suppliers on P22, has been hired to work on the new temporary hospital at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

The Procure 2020 framework is intended to be the main route through which up to £20bn of NHS capital spending is directed in the next six years, including for services required to build the “40 new hospitals” pledged by prime minister Boris Johnson.

However, it is not clear how much capacity the NHS has to work on non-covid-19 related capital projects as hospital estates teams and national leaders focus on reconfiguring existing facilities ahead of the pandemic’s expected peak.

In its message to suppliers — first reported by Construction News — the DHSC said extending the existing framework was “unavoidable” due to the “re-routing of departmental resources to support covid-19 pressures in the immediate term”.

The DHSC plans to hold a competition for the replacement framework agreement. The six suppliers on P22 are John Graham Construction Ltd, Galliford, Bam, Integrated Health Projects, Interserve and Kier.

Capital budgets

Meanwhile, in a letter to local organisations, seen by HSJ, NHS England and NHS Improvement have confirmed NHS providers will operate with a notional capital spending limit of £5.8bn in 2020-21. This is up from £4.6bn last year, and made possible after additional money was announced in the Budget

However, following on from the chancellor’s pledge that the NHS will get whatever funding it requires to tackle the covid-19 outbreak, the letter added: “Capital requirements agreed as part of covid-19 costs will be funded on top of these envelopes.”

Story updated on 7 April after we inaccurately reported the Procure2020 framework has been delayed by a year.