Beachcrofts and Buchanans diverge for NHS deal

The Beachcroft Wansbroughs and Buchanan Ingersoll partnership has been thrown into question, with the two firms fighting each other to advise on one of the UK’s largest PFI schemes

When Barry Francis’ health PFI team announced it was leaving Beachcrofts to set up the London office of US firm Buchanans, the two firms agreed to work on pre-existing projects together.

One of the three remaining projects in which the Buchanans team is effectively being the subcontractor for Beachcrofts is in the PFI deal to refurbish Barts and build a new hospital on the site of the Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel, part of the Bart and The London NHS Trust. But now the trust has decided to retender the work, and has requested six firms to apply.

Both Beachcrofts and Buchanans have been advising on the scheme for over two years through their joint project initiative. Now, though, they are tendering separately against Berwin Leighton, Herbert Smith, Allen & Overy and Lovells.

Andrew Wright, head of projects at the trust, says: “We agreed [to a joint projects team] in the short term because it was a pragmatic solution, but we decided we wanted to review it because we wanted one firm. With a subcontractual relationship it could be difficult for the trust to use two firms – it’s a bit unorthodox.”

UK managing partner at Buchanans Barry Francis says: “We think it’s going well and we’re working with [Beachcrofts] on other projects.”

Trevor Blythe, a partner in projects at Beachcrofts, says: “[The joint project] is unusual, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. I don’t think there’s any criticism, the trust just wants it to go out to the market.”