Framework agreement for the NHS and public sector

  • 30 Mar 2017

All public sector organisations could achieve an average of 5% savings compared to direct purchasing solutions via a new Modular Buildings Framework – the only national agreement of its type. In this month’s Public Sector Building, Jack Steele, at NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS), the framework launch company, explains…

NHS SBS is a unique joint venture between the Department of Health and Sopra Steria founded in 2004. As the leading provider of business support services to the NHS in England, it works with over a third of provider trusts and 100% of commissioning bodies, as well as a range of other NHS organisations.

NHS SBS’ mission is to deliver £1bn savings back to the NHS by 2020, having already delivered audited savings of over £400m. This has been achieved by providing Finance & Accounting Procurement and Employment Services to hundreds of NHS organisations.

The NHS SBS strategic procurement team offers a large number of national framework agreements that are available to all public sector organisations rather than for use solely within the NHS.

The new Modular Buildings Framework adds to its growing Estates and Facilities portfolio which includes Construction Consultancy Services, Electrical Sundries, Estates Services, Facilities Management, Carbon Energy and Infrastructure and Waste Management Services to name but a few.

Modular construction is a process in which a building is constructed off-site, under controlled plant conditions, using the same materials and designing to the same codes and standards as conventionally-built facilities but in about half the time. The efficiency gains from manufactured, modular solutions support the delivery of the Government’s construction and industry strategy targets, which include time and cost savings as well as whole-life cost benefits and in-use savings.

The new NHS SBS Modular Building Framework provides an CJEU compliant route for the procurement of all types of modular buildings, covering off-site building solutions for purchase, hire and leases with specific lots for healthcare, education, catering and bespoke solutions.

Lots have been further divided to cover hire projects and purchases or leases under and above £1m. This ensures that only the right mix of specialist providers have been awarded under each lot. 

The framework has been awarded following a fair and open competition; with the specification developed through consultation with the market and experts in the field. Suppliers have been awarded based on a mixture of quality and price criteria and have all passed stringent checks on their financial status, quality standards, health and safety policies and environmental credentials.

Organisations can choose to perform a further competition under the agreement to drive further savings, or simply direct award to a preferred supplier, which further speeds up the procurement process.

The idea for the framework itself came from the growing number of enquiries from NHS Trusts looking for an off-site construction procurement route. It was quickly established that the benefits of a framework could be extended to the wider public sector as a whole, especially in the sphere of education, catering and modular housing. 

The framework was therefore developed with the full public sector in mind and is free and open for all to use.

The scope of the framework itself is broad, covering any off-site solution including operating theatres, GP surgeries, office space, student accommodation, schools, housing, catering facilities and bespoke units. 

The expertise in the off-site construction market means that any new or temporary building projects now has the potential to be built off site. With only specialist off-site construction suppliers with full turnkey capabilities being awarded, there is the opportunity for early collaboration and no need for the further sub-contracting of work.

There are huge benefits to off-site construction, particularly within the NHS and education sectors where there is often limited on-site space, urgent requirements and squeezed capital budgets.  This framework aims to solve these issues through an easy-to-use procurement route with specialist suppliers who can all provide full turnkey solutions.

Off-site construction is typically 50% faster than standard off-site construction and, because approximately 80% of the building is produced in a controlled factory setting, projects are nearly always on time and on budget.

Buildings are often of a higher quality and with less wastage and on-site movement, their environmental footprint is reduced dramatically.

There has already been substantial interest in the new framework from across the whole UK public sector including Northern Ireland.

If you require any further information, including details on how to access the agreement, please contact the NHS SBS contract enquiries team at [email protected] or tel: 0151 212 3940.

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