§ 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. 
§ 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, 23W except on de minimis grounds, would require the explicit approval of the board, and reasons would be recorded for audit scrutiny.