Hospital developers line up bids

A SHORTLIST of three companies has been drawn up from the 18 who expressed an interest in working on a £127m Essex hospital project.The successful company will become Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust private finance initiative (PFI) partner in the redevelopment of Colchester General Hospital, which will include a £30m cancer centre.

By Sharon Asplin

A SHORTLIST of three companies has been drawn up from the 18 who expressed an interest in working on a £127m Essex hospital project.

The successful company will become Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust private finance initiative (PFI) partner in the redevelopment of Colchester General Hospital, which will include a £30m cancer centre.

The three will be whittled down to a final shortlist of two in July and the winning company will be announced by the end of 2004, paving the way for construction to start in the autumn of 2005.


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Each of the three companies on the list is, in fact, a consortium, which bring together a group of companies with expertise in areas such as construction, architecture, law and finance.

The consortia are led AMEC, a UK-owned international services company; Bouygues UK, part of a French construction and telecommunications group; and Interserve, a major player in the support services market.

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David Hewitt, PFI project director at Essex Rivers Healthcare, said the trust was pleased with the high quality of the three consortia.

"They all have very good references and each one is led by and includes companies that already have PFI experience in the NHS," he said.

"It is the trust's view that the key to this project is good architecture and each consortium includes high quality architects with international experience.

"The planners have said they want this development to be an architectural statement, which is a vision we share, but it is going to be a considerable challenge to achieve this while at the same time designing facilities that are ideal for 21st century health care and a good working environment for staff."

The trust has issued a specification for the redevelopment to the companies which will now each spend between £150,000 and £250,000 of their own money on developing proposals.

After the three are whittled down to two, members of a public user group, drawn mainly from people who took part in a public consultation exercise in 2002, will look at the designs and play a role in picking the eventual winner.

A legal agreement between the trust and its PFI partner would then be agreed for a period of 25 to 30 years and detailed planning permission sought. It is expected the development will be completed in phases between 2007 and 2009 with an overall completion date of April 1 2009.

As well as a cancer centre, it will include a £10m ophthalmology unit, 70 extra beds, almost 800 extra car parking spaces and a new airport-concourse style hospital entrance that will include a new restaurant and coffee shop for visitors.

It will also involve improvements to existing facilities at Colchester General Hospital and the closure of Essex County Hospital, which is also run by Essex Rivers Healthcare, and the transfer of its services to superior accommodation at the general.

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