14 March 2002 | Robin Parker
GE Medical Systems has hit back at claims that it behaved "opportunistically" in its bid for a collapsed multi-million pound national NHS contract.
Chris Wright, GE Europe's service sales and marketing manager, said it could not offer discounts on the £4 million bid to maintain vital hospital equipment, including x-ray systems, which was rejected by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (Pasa).
His remarks follow SM's exclusive revelation that Pasa has asked more than 70 trusts to renew individually what had been a previously national GE contract.
Purchasers fear this will be costly and that they will be unable to negotiate deals by the renewal date of 1 April.
In a letter to the trusts, Pasa said GE's price was "regrettable and disappointing".
The agency said in a statement: "If suppliers are offering national terms that are no more favourable than local arrangements, the agency must seriously consider whether the interests of the NHS are best served by a national contract not being let."
Wright responded: "For Pasa to suggest GE is behaving opportunistically is wrong."
He said GE could not offer a discounted five-year deal if the NHS continued to ask suppliers to pay a manual handling fee to NHS Logistics, which acts as the central point for trusts' invoices.
"It's a political decision between Pasa and NHS Logistics. Until they can transact electronically, we cannot get the economies of scale that can be passed on to the end consumer."