HC Deb 19 February 1996 vol 272 cc22-3W
Sir Teddy Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if health care trusts are required to seek competitive tenders for purchases of equipment for hospitals; and if he will make a statement. [16034]

Mr. Horam

There is a statutory requirement to invite competitive tenders where the aggregate value of the national health service contracting authority's purchase, hire or lease of specified goods or equipment over a 12-month period exceeds £108,667. The only permitted exceptions are on grounds of:

  • national security;
  • another international procedure takes preference;
  • only one supplier is available for technical or artistic reasons, or because of exclusive rights;
  • extreme urgency has arisen that was unforeseeable and not due to the purchaser;
  • the procurement is of a research and development nature;
  • additional deliveries by the original supplier are justified within the current contract;
  • following no response, or unacceptable or irregular tenders, from a competitive tender exercise.

Below the statutory threshold, competitive tenders for purchase of equipment would normally be required under a health authority's or NHS trust's standing financial instructions. Any decision to waive such a requirement, except on de minimis grounds, would require the explicit approval of the board, and reasons would be recorded for audit scrutiny.

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