As a regeneration practitioner that has operated on the edges of the health estate throughout my career, I look on with interest at the recent series of announcements concerning new investment in capital projects across the NHS.
This interesting article from Paul Sawyers of HKS does well to highlight the gaps that lie ahead of any such funding announcements. Who in the market is competitive and experienced enough to deliver what are highly complex projects? And how do we extract maximum competitive tension from any procurement process such that the spending goes as far as it can?
So yes procurement routes need to be carefully considered. But two other things strike me:
1) First and foremost, should we be reclassifying these as regeneration projects rather than capital projects? The first implies wider purpose and benefit, mixture of uses and viability drivers. The second implies cost and product only. Are we really maximising our NHS estate by seeing these as capital projects?
2) My experience in procurement tells me that stability and coherence of decision-making by the contracting authority over what are long processes are absolutely essential to successful outcomes. And my occasional sortie into the NHS tells me that there's some real work to do on this front...
Put simply, the current options for procuring large capital projects in the health service have, I believe, considerable limitations.