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Competitive Tendering

Volume 129: debated on Thursday 10 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will detail the savings identified for each district health authority from competitive tendering for support services; and what adverse comment and representations have been made to him as a consequence of the process.Mrs. Currie

[holding answer 29 February 1988]: Tables giving the savings information requested have been placed in the Library. They are based on reports from health authorities and set out the cumulative estimated annual savings generated through competitive tendering for domestic cleaning, catering and laundry services. There has been a considerable debate about the competitive tendering initiatives since it was launched some four and a half years ago. It has without a doubt provided a much-needed spur towards improving efficiency in the delivery of services and has helped to maximise the resources for patient care. Total annual savings generated in England currently stand at some £105 million.

In the main these savings, and the associated improvements in service delivery and management, have been welcomed. Some trade unions have expressed official concern about staff pay and conditions of service; they have alleged deterioration in standards and staff morale. Health authorities remain responsible for the standard of service provided whether done in-house or by an outside contractor.

We have also received representations from contractors and trade associations expressing concern that the treatment of capital and other overheads in the costing of in-house services may put outside contractors at a disadvantage in the award of contracts.