Capital equipment

What is capital equipment?

Capital equipment is any item costing more than £5,000 including VAT.  NHSBT’s budget to purchase capital equipment is provided by the Department of Health (DH) in the form of a ‘loan’. Capital equipment purchases may incur capital charges in subsequent years (a repayment to the DH may be required). This is dependent upon the cost and expected life of each item.

The purchase of capital equipment requires planning and takes time. Requests from Principal Investigators (PIs) for capital equipment are collated annually and prioritised by the R&D Senior Management Team against the available budget. Replacement equipment, equipment available to several users and equipment essential for the success of a project or research programme will generally be given higher priority.

NHSBT’s Standing Financial Instructions include rules governing the processes that must be followed when purchasing Capital equipment. They are designed to allow free competition between suppliers:


  • If the value is above £10,000 but below £40,000 then quotations from three suppliers are required
  • If the value is above £40,000 but below £101,000 then tenders from suppliers are required
  • If the value is above £101,000 then the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) process must be followed, taking several months. This involves NHSBT advertising the ‘intention to purchase’ in the European Journal


It is not permissible to avoid these limits by splitting the order into smaller lots, although in exceptional circumstances a waiver is possible if it can be clearly demonstrated that there is only a single supplier of a particular item.

These processes can be expedited if the suppliers chosen for quotations or invited to tender are on the NHSBT Approved Suppliers list.  There are significant advantages in terms of time taken to purchase if an Approved Supplier can be selected.

It should be noted that the award of funds to purchase capital equipment is not in the gift of the RDC or R&D SMT. Therefore, even if the project or research programme is approved, and the capital equipment required receives high priority, the bid will be in competition with bids for capital funds from the whole of NHSBT.

Further information, including current financial limits, can be obtained by contacting our R&D Office

The process for purchasing capital equipment

Please note: a Quality Improvement Exercise was undertaken by Finance in late 2016, looking to improve this process and reduce administrative burden. The below guidelines may change in the near future.

If your piece of equipment has been prioritised by the R&D SMT and there is sufficient budget for your equipment, our R&D Office will get in contact with the original requestor with an Authority to Spend (ATS) form. The requestor will then complete the ATS and return it to us. Our R&D Office will check that all elements of the form are complete and forward it on to Procurement.

The Procurement team will then review the request and clarify specific requirements of the equipment, working directly with the requestor in doing so. Once the equipment has been identified and supplier is on board, Procurement will give the go ahead for the signatory process to take place.

Our R&D Office will coordinate the signatory process and forward the finalised ATS to Procurement so that the order can be placed. It is essential that any equipment ordered is delivered and receipted on iProcurement before the 31st March in any given year. Again, our R&D Office can facilitate receipting of equipment.

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