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DH announce major expansion for LIFT scheme

By Steve Nowottny

The Department of Health today announced a major expansion to LIFT in a bid to fast-track the funding and development of new GP surgeries.

The Department has launched a new national procurement framework, ‘Express LIFT', which will dramatically accelerate the procurement process for infrastructure projects.

The framework will develop a list of between six and ten approved private sector partners, each of whom will have to demonstrate a track-record in delivering services required of a successful LIFT company. Trusts and local authorities will be able to select companies from the framework to act as partners in local LIFT schemes.

As a result, the time and money required to prepare a bid will be slashed, with local procurements from the framework now expected to take about four to six weeks, compared to two years currently.

48 LIFT companies have so far delivered over £1.4 billion of primary care facilities through LIFT schemes, although projects have only been developed in about half of England's PCTs.

Mark Britnell, director general of commissioning and system management at the Department of Health, said:

‘LIFT has proved highly successful, allowing trusts to upgrade inadequate or ageing facilities around the country and address the historic legacy of underinvestment in NHS primary care facilities.'

'Allowing the LIFT scheme to rapidly expand will enable more Primary Care Trusts and local authorities to take advantage of its benefits - faster builds, improved working conditions for staff, better care environments for patients, and better overall facilities available for the local community.'

‘Only the best companies will make it onto the framework list and we know that private sector developers will welcome this development, both because of the potential future work and the quicker and cheaper procurement process.'

Primary Care Trusts are expected to be able to use the new scheme from January 2009.

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