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Health Minister Zvolenská ends due to dubious tender

PRIME Minister Robert Fico called on Zuzana Zvolenská to resign from the post of Minister of Health due to a widely criticised tender for purchasing a CT scanner in Piešťany Hospital of Alexander Winter announced shortly after parliament elections in March 2012. Zvolenská, however, is not the only top official who has to resign due to the scandal: Deputy Speaker of Parliament Renáta Zmajkovičová, who sat at the helm of the board of directors at the hospital, also resigned from both positions upon Fico’s request.

Zuzana Zvolenská(Source: TASR)

PRIME Minister Robert Fico called on Zuzana Zvolenská to resign from the post of Minister of Health due to a widely criticised tender for purchasing a CT scanner in Piešťany Hospital of Alexander Winter announced shortly after parliament elections in March 2012. Zvolenská, however, is not the only top official who has to resign due to the scandal: Deputy Speaker of Parliament Renáta Zmajkovičová, who sat at the helm of the board of directors at the hospital, also resigned from both positions upon Fico’s request.

“The process of CT device [public] procurement raises doubts and it is not enough to react to those doubts by sacking the members of the board of directors, which has already happened,” Fico told the press on November 3, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Private broadcaster TV Markíza reported on October 30 that in 2012, the hospital in Piešťany wanted to buy a CT Somatom Definition AS produced by Siemens for more than €1 million with VAT but the tender was stopped after the March 2012 parliamentary elections due to the change of the top management. The new management, which included Zmajkovičová’s assistant Adriana Herdová and rapper Michal Straka, announced a new competition and picked Philips Ingenuity Core 128 CT device for €1.6 million, according to the Sme daily.

The Medical Group SK company, which won the tender, had only one competitor, the Nitra-based firm Meditecon offering the CT for a price just €300 higher. In the past, current Parliament Speaker Pavol Paška was active in Medical Group SK until 2002.

The price is approximately three times higher than similar devices in the Czech Republic; for example, a hospital in the Czech town of Havlíčkův Brod bought a CT scanner for almost 15 million Czech Crowns – which is around €540,000 – in May 2014, according to Sme.

The Piešťany Hospital management has not explained why the new CT scanner is so expensive and its secretariat responded that hospital director Mária Domčeková is on vacation; therefore, she cannot response on media questions, Sme reported.

In her statement, Zvolenská said that she has decided to file a complaint and will contact the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) and Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) which has the power to check the lawfulness of the tender.

“Therefore currently, I can’t say whether the chosen approach was correct or not,” Zvolenská said, as quoted by TASR. “What I can say is that Health Ministry nominees in Piešťany Hospital board of directors have not properly informed me about approaches in this hospital.”

Fico further stated that Zmajkovičová also bears part of responsibility, and he asked her to consider taking political responsibility and quit her parliamentary post. She resigned and told the SITA newswire that she does not want to politicise the issue and she wants whole process to be properly investigated.

“I know that such political culture is not common in Slovakia,” Zmajkovičová said, as quoted by SITA, “but I am not after job titles.”

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