Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has made its first IT purchase using the G-Cloud framework, by choosing Microsoft Lync software as a service to be delivered by cloud-based IT services firm Outsourcery.
The trust employs 4,000 people across about 100 sites and is focused on mental and community health services.
Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust director of information management and technology Mark Davison said G-Cloud gives the trust more options when it comes to buying IT.
“Using the G-Cloud gave us access to a much broader range of suppliers that we would not have considered had we followed previous procurement approaches outside the framework," he said.
"Importantly, this meant receiving tenders from a range of smaller providers who were able to be more competitive on price and flexible in the service they offered."
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Davison added that the Microsoft Lync service will be installed across two datacentres for instant messaging, presence and audio/video conferencing to enable collaboration across the trust.
G-Cloud is an attempt by government to make it easier for public sector organisations to buy a wider range of suppliers, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
But according to the latest figures, government spending on contracts with UK small businesses is falling.
The latest figures for 2013/14 show central government spent £4,489m directly with SMEs, representing 10.3% of all procurement spend. In the previous year, direct spend was 10.5%, at £4,577m.
There has been little growth in direct SME spending since 2011/12, when small businesses received 10% of all spending, worth £4,439m. That year showed a big jump from £3,200m (6.8%) in 2010/11, as policies introduced in the first year of the coalition government took effect.
Further measures introduced since – such as the formation of the Crown Commercial Service to centralise all government purchasing – have had little additional effect.
But one area where direct SME spending has seen significant growth is through the G-Cloud framework for cloud-based IT products and services. In January 2015, more than half of the £467m spent through the cloud services framework went to SMEs.