§ Mr. Hannam
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) when a supply contract for a hearing aid finishes on what basis it is withdrawn from circulation and what consultation takes place regarding its withdrawal;
(2) what representations he has received on the decision to end the contract for BE52 hearing aids;
(3) what is the cost to his Department of the contract for the supply of BE51 hearing aids; how many BE51s are supplied each year under contract; and what measures will be taken to continue the purchase of BE51s when the contract with the present supplier ends;
(4) what is the cost to his Department of the contract for the supply of BE52 hearing aids; how many BE52s are supplied under contract; and at what price additional BE52s could be purchased.
§ Mr. Newton
Ministers have received five letters about the withdrawal of BE52 hearing aids.
BE51 and BE52 aids are made to the same specification by different manufacturers. Twenty two thousand, five hundred BE51 aids were supplied in 1983–84 and 20,000 are being supplied in 1984–85 under a contract which expires in January 1985. Thirteen thousand, five hundred BE52 aids have been supplied under a contract which expired in June this year and could only have been extended at a markedly higher price. Manufacturers expect prices offered in competition with other manufacturers to be covered by commercial confidentiality. New tenders for the supply of hearing aids to the same specification have been received and will be subject to the normal adjudication procedure.
When a contract for the supply of any model of hearing aid expires and is not renewed, the model is not issued to any new patients. Unissued stocks are reserved to provide replacements, and a repair service is maintained as long as it is feasible. This process is not the subject of consultation.