27 February 2003 | David Arminas
NHS purchasers are set to toast the success of their first e-auction - with a nice cup of tea.
Buyers, patients and staff will brew up on 1 April when the new contract for £1 million of tea bags starts. It will save 29 per cent on the current cost of NHS tea over three years.
A spokesperson for the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (Pasa) said tea was a sensitive issue and quality control was high on the list of pre-qualification for suppliers. The quality of suppliers was checked by the independent Tea Council.
"Tea was selected for our pilot e-auction because it has a history of being bought by e-auction in the private sector and the NHS contract was coming up for renewal."
Tea was also suitable for an e-auction because the contract value was high enough, above the £1 million mark, to make potential savings worthwhile.
While savings were impressive, according to Pasa, it said that only 12 per cent of the 29 per cent saved came from the competition process. The remainder was because of a slump in the commodity price of tea.
There were at least four suppliers ready to bid for the three-year contract in the auction being carried out by service provider TradingPartners.