§ Mr. Donohoe
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what use his Department or its executive agencies makes of private hospitals in testing applicants for benefits; if he will list(a) those private hospitals which have contracts from his Department or its executive agencies to carry out work during the current financial year, (b) the types of medical testing which will be carried out, (c) the number of patients to be treated under those contracts and (d) the value of the contracts; and what factors led his Department to use these facilities rather than national health service hospitals.
§ Mr. Hague
Only the War Pensions Agency makes use of private hospitals in testing applicants for benefit.
- (a) General Healthcare Group plc trading as BMI Healthcare Audiology Services (BMI) are currently contracted to carry out audiological examinations for the War Pensions Agency.
- (b) In each case pure tone audiometry is performed and depending on the circumstances, tympanometry and/or Evoked Response Audiometry may also be performed.
- (c) BMI performed just over 105,000 pure tone audiometric tests.
- (d) This information is commercial in confidence.
Prior to this contract being awarded, audiological services were provided by a fragmented network of private individuals throughout the United Kingdom that had been appointed by senior medical officers in the various regions. However, a wide variance of service reporting standards and unacceptable delays in some areas led to the decision to undertake a competitive tendering exercise for the nationwide provision of audiological services. Many expressions of interest were received, including some from individual NHS hospitals. However, upon extensive and thorough evaluation of all submissions, a single contract was awarded to General Healthcare Group plc, its tender best matching the contract strategy of providing a uniform quality service to pre-determined standards and offering the best value for money.