On 4th April the Procure North West Framework invited 5 NHS Trusts to a round table discussion event focusing on how they effectively deliver their programmes of minor works projects. Attendees included; Lee Bushell (Warrington & Halton Hospital NHS FT), Barry Cleminson (Lancashire Care NHS FT), Max Charlesworth (St Helen’s & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust), Stephen Welch (Pennine Care NHS Trust), Jane Christopher (Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS FT), and Mike Christopher (Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS FT).
Effectively planning a minor work programmes
One widely agreed solution to effectively planning a minor works programme was getting a Measured Term Contractor on board. Jane Christopher claimed that by having a Measured Term Contractor they can ensure reliant performance as they have a good understanding of the site. Mike Christopher agreed but told the panel that it is often difficult to forward plan minor works as they are often reactive and unpredictable. From a Procurement perspective, it was agreed that it was inefficient to procure on a project by project basis for minor works projects.
Robbie Blackhurst asked the panel if they believed that they were getting value for money by using a Measured Term Contractor as there is potentially a loss of competitive tension. Lee Bushell explained that he uses an external consultant who verifies and advises on rates. Max Charlesworth brought a different angle as they are under a PFI agreement so they market test their PFI provider every 3 years. In terms of getting a Contractor on board to deliver a minor works scheme, Stephen Welch stated that Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust historically used the Approved list of Contractors from the North West Consortium of NHS Trusts as a starting point. Unfortunately, this service recently ceased to operate. Small value works have been procured using local SFI’s with additional financial background checks.
Selecting one contractor partner to deliver a 12 month minor works programme
The panel discussed how important the interview process is by making sure the scoring was weighted in favour of experience. The group agreed that minor works projects were often unpredictable and required a quick turnaround. Robbie Blackhurst explained how the Procure North West Direct Framework offers a route to market to directly award projects to one contractor, without re-opening competition. Faye Dolan discussed using the Procure North West Framework to appoint a single contractor to deliver 12 months of minor works projects (similar to a measured works arrangement). Stephen Welch stated that he prefers to use familiar contractors (where possible) as finding specific experience in the Mental Health sector can sometimes prove difficult to find.
Influencing delivery partners on a sub-contractor level
The topic of clients being influential over the sub-contractors appointed by the main contractor evoked active debate. Although the panel agreed that it can be useful if they can endorse which sub-contractors the main contractor uses, if anything goes wrong, the responsibility may lie with them. Robbie discussed the Procure North West Framework procurement schedule which in two stage environment allowed Trusts to dictate their sub-contractor supply chain onto the main contractor partner.
It was widely agreed amongst the panel that patient and staff safety is paramount so any projects that directly impact the end users come first. Some Trusts made reference to a scoring matrix which selects which projects take priority, with clinical teams being influential on which capital projects are prioritised.
Batching Minor Works projects to drive efficiencies and safeguard value for money
Robbie asked the group if they saw a benefit for batching numerous minor works projects together and letting them as one package. Some logistical benefits were identified as there can be issues getting contractors onto live wards as they are only allowed 2 at a time. Lee Bushell mentioned that their Measured Term Contractor could run 3/4 different projects simultaneously so they can benefit from preliminary savings. From a procurement angle, Jane Christopher commented that capital teams push projects to procurement on an adhoc basis therefore resulting in a less efficient procurement strategy.