06 August 2008 | Helen Gilbert
The Department of Health (DH) has unveiled a public-private partnership initiative to improve procurement procedures and help build better local healthcare premises.
Express LIFT is a new national procurement framework that extends the LIFT (Local Improvement Finance Trust) scheme - a partnership between primary care trusts (PCTs), local authorities and the private sector to build and finance new GP surgeries, health and walk-in centres.
The new framework will generate a list of approved private sector partners with a track record of delivering the services required by LIFT. This includes providing strategic advice, design skills, management of a supply chain and an ability to obtain funding.
At present, half of all PCTs in England use LIFT.
Trusts and local authorities will be able to select organisations from the framework to act as partners in their local LIFT schemes.
According to the DH, the new process will "greatly accelerate" the procurement process for infrastructure projects, "vastly reduce" costs to bidders and cut the length of time for completion on bids.
Express LIFT would enable local purchases to be completed within four to six weeks rather than the current two years.
Mark Britnell, director general of commissioning and system management at the DH, described the LIFT scheme as "highly successful" in allowing trusts to upgrade inadequate or ageing facilities around the country.
He said: "Only the best companies will make it onto the framework list and we know that private sector developers will welcome this development, both because of the potential future work and the quicker and cheaper procurement process."