DoH selects panel – at second attempt

DoH chooses Bevan Brittan, Mills & Reeve and Wragges for legal operations

After bungling its first attempt at a tender, the Department of Health (DoH) has picked three firms to advise it on creating and running a property company.

Then-health secretary Andrew Lansley announced as far back as early 2012 that the Government was to create a company – NHS Property Services Ltd – to manage property owned by the soon-to-be defunct primary care trusts.

The DoH soon began looking for a legal panel, giving firms until 18 May 2012 to finish the tender, but when bids started coming in, it found that the quotes were much higher than they expected – in some cases 10 times higher – and it cancelled the pitch, much to the annoyance of those who had tendered.

“It’s just incompetence,” an angry lawyer said at the time. “The Department of Health issued a tender that didn’t understand the work that it was asking for… They put a lot of firms through a lot of work, but if they’d just done some soft marketing and looked at the costs first, all of this could have been avoided.”

Following a revised tender, three firms were appointed at the end of 2012. Bevan Brittan will advise the property company on matters across London, the South, the Midlands and the East. Mills & Reeve on issues in the North of England, while Wragge & Co will pick up any conflict work.

The DoH press office confirmed all the appointments but the firms involved were shy to talk about the whole process.

Some things just have to be put down to experience.