§ Mr. Hinchliffe
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions during 1987 a higher private tender submitted under the competitive tendering process in the National Health Service has been accepted in preference to a lower in-house tender; in which district health authorities this occurred and with which contracts; and what were the reason given for this course of action.
§ Mrs. Currie
[holding answer 26 April 1988]: This information is not available centrally since under the terms 180W of departmental guidance evaluation of tenders is a matter for the health authority concerned. Where a district health authority decides that there are compelling reasons for not accepting the lowest tender it is expected to notify its decision to the appropriate regional health authority.
The 1987 National Audit Office reports on competitive tendering for support services in the NHS provides the best available information on practice in rejecting the lowest tender bids. Of the 29 cases which NAO examined nine involved a decision to reject the lowest tender. In two of these cases commercial contractors were rejected in favour of in-house tenders and in the other seven cases one commercial contractor was rejected in favour of another. Eight of the contracts were for domestic services and one for laundry services. The main reasons to reject the lowest tender were as follows:
Number a. Inadequate hours tendered for job required 4 b. Inadequate proposed staffing levels 1 c. Inadequate or incomplete tender submission 2 d. Doubts on feasibility not dispelled on interview 1 e. Small cost difference linked to wider operational, personnel and financial considerations 1 9