To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the achievements of (a) her policies and (b) her Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months; and if she will publish the performance indicators by which her Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.
The Government continue to help small businesses, through improvements to the business climate, through deregulation and through specific programmes of support and assistance.It continues to be the policy of the Department and the national health service to provide equal opportunities to all potential suppliers of whatever size, to trade on a value for money basis. This policy underpins all NHS and departmental contracts with suppliers. To help all businesses, a guide on how purchasing is now organised and who to contact, "Purchasing at NHS Supplies", has been published and widely distributed. A copy of the guide will be placed in the Library.It is not practicable to monitor centrally the precise extent to which the NHS or the Department make use of small businesses. Similarly, it would not affect the way in which we purchase goods and services. Therefore no performance indicators on this subject are currently maintained.