Firms bid for £127m hospital contract

By Sharon AsplinINTERNATIONAL architect and construction companies have expressed an interest in undertaking a town's £127million hospital project.The development will involve investment in new buildings and equipment at Colchester General Hospital to pave the way for the centralisation of all acute hospital services in the town on the site, as well as improvements to existing facilities.

By Sharon Asplin

INTERNATIONAL architect and construction companies have expressed an interest in undertaking a town's £127million hospital project.

The development will involve investment in new buildings and equipment at Colchester General Hospital to pave the way for the centralisation of all acute hospital services in the town on the site, as well as improvements to existing facilities.

Eighteen companies have lodged an “expression of interest” in working with hospital operator, Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI).


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David Hewitt, the trust's PFI project director, said: “Most of the expressions of interest have come from consortiums, including international companies based in the United States, Canada and France as well as UK-based companies who operate internationally.

“Our initial thoughts are that five or six of these have the potential to deliver this project, which helps to maintain the momentum we gained at the back end of last year when it won outline planning permission and approval from Essex Strategic Health Authority.”

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Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust hopes to draw up an initial shortlist of four firms in March, who will then take part in an architectural competition to prepare designs.

The trust aims to shortlist the final two firms in July. It would then develop the plans - which would include consulting patients, service user groups, trust staff and the public - with the preferred PFI partner announced before the end of 2004.

It is expected the development will start in the autumn of 2005 and be completed in phases between 2007 and 2009, with an overall finish date of April 1, 2009.

The development will involve the closure of Essex County Hospital, also run by Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, and the transfer of its services to Colchester General Hospital.

It will also include a £30m cancer centre, a £10m ophthalmology unit, 70 extra beds - including eight additional critical care beds - and almost 800 extra care parking spaces.

The £127m plan has the support of Colchester, Tendring and Witham, Halstead and Braintree Primary Care Trusts.

sharon.asplin@eadt.co.uk

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