24 May 2007
An NHS trust is "seriously considering" compensating unsuccessful bidders for a £374 million PFI hospital deal, which went out to tender this month.
The North Bristol NHS Trust and Department of Health (DH) both said action was being considered because of recent changes to EU procurement rules, which keep bidders involved in the procurement process longer. The idea is a first for the health sector.
David Powell, the trust's director of projects, told SM
: "We are considering recompensing losing bidders for some of the increase in their costs that will result from the increasingly detailed design work. This detail will enable us to proceed with our scheme more quickly."
A DH spokeswoman said costs would only be reimbursed to the second-place bidder. She denied reports the firm could receive around £6 million and said amounts had not been agreed.
The trust is using the new "competitive dialogue" procurement process. It has been designed so contracting authorities can discuss all aspects of a contract with bidders during the tender process. But because of this, bidders have to spend more time and money on tendering for contracts. Although the EU legislation does not say compensation for this is necessary, it does state that "contracting authorities may specify prices or payments to the participants in the dialogue".
Yet guidance produced by the OGC in January last year states that using the process "should not lead to an increase in bid costs".
- The DH has also confirmed that Chan Wheeler has been appointed as the new commercial director general.