The Department of Health has published its list of successful bidders for the Express LIFT (Local Improvement Finance Trust) framework, which is intended to reduce the time and cost in appointing LIFT partners for PCTs.
Currently around half of PCTs in England use LIFT to update facilities and build modernised GP surgeries, health centres and walk-in centres. LIFT enables PCTs to develop new capital schemes faster than traditional procurement methods and provides a framework for long-term partnership between the public sector and private sector developers.
Express LIFT accelerates this process further, offering PCTs who have not yet conducted their own procurement the opportunity to select a pre-approved LIFT partner faster and more cost-effectively from the list. Local procurements from the Express LIFT framework can be completed within three or four months as opposed to two years, as is currently the case.
The Department of Health says the framework partners have been selected on their demonstrated ability to provide expert advice and services required of a successful LIFT company while providing good value for money for the taxpayer.
The seven approved LIFT partners are: Community Solutions for Primary Care; Express LIFT Investments Limited; Equity Solutions; Eric Wright Group; Fulcrum Infrastructure Group; Odyssey Healthcare and Prime Plc.
For the first time, neither the bidder nor the PCT will need to engage in expensive design work prior to the establishment of a LIFT company. The list of framework partners is designed to reduce the cost of wasted bids, and thus benefit the taxpayer as well as the private sector.
This new process allows both PCTs and the LIFT partners to focus on delivering through long-term strategic partnerships, some of which can last for 20 years.
Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw said: "LIFT has proved highly successful in allowing trusts to upgrade inadequate or ageing facilities around the country.
"The successful companies approved on the Express LIFT framework today will go one step further in cutting down on the time and cost of the procurement process and help the scheme expand rapidly.
"It will enable more PCTs and local authorities to take advantage of its benefits – faster builds, improved working conditions for staff, better care environments for patients, and better overall facilities available for the local community."
Dr Ian Mitchell, a GP and Chair of NHS Cumbria's professional executive committee, said: "As Cumbria expects to be one of the first PCTs to use the new framework, this announcement is an important milestone and one that brings us a step closer to developing 21st-century healthcare facilities for the people of Cumbria."