The deal, to supply cars and car-derived vans to the 36,000-vehicle fleet, has been awarded by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency. Membership of the group is not compulsory, but 90% of the hospital trusts in England use the scheme to supply their vehicles, which are leased on average on a three- year/39,000-miles replacement cycle. The agency sends out tenders for vehicle supply every three years, with the last review in 2000 seeing an increase of 30% in the number of vehicles procured through the scheme.
In the past year, the agency's transport team, in conjunction with the NHS Strategic Transport Consultation Group, worked on the huge task of renewing the contract. In total, there were 27 expressions of interest and more than half of these were converted into completed tenders. A spokesman for the agency said: 'With the estimated value of this contract at £80m or more, it is obviously essential that not only do we get the best value for the NHS but that we also work closely with suppliers so this market remains attractive.'
The new agreement began on April 1 and will run until March 31, 2006, with the option to extend for a further two years. It is endorsed by the Transport Managers Association.
Leasing companies which successfully tendered to be part of the new contract are Appleyard Vehicle Contracts, Arnold Clark Finance, Automotive Leasing, Fleetlease (UK), Inchcape Fleet Solutions, Interleasing, Lex Vehicle Leasing, Lloyds TSB autolease and Lombard Vehicle Management.
There are more than 4,000 vehicle derivatives available on the contract and, with nine different suppliers, electronic systems are vital to helping drivers choose cars. A website allows NHS staff to specify a manufacturer and model and obtain comparative quotations from all those contracted suppliers able to offer the vehicle.
If a driver does not have a particular model in mind but knows what features they require, they can interrogate the site by entering various criteria, such as bodystyle, transmission, fuel type and benefit-in-kind tax band.