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Prešov hospital did not sign deal over expensive lunches

COMPANIES Hospital Catering Solutions and Dora Gastro Slovensko not only won the competition for supplying the food to patients and employees of the hospitals for 10 years in state-run facilities in Trenčín, Trnava, Banská Bystrica and Poprad, but also in Prešov. This last hospital, however, in the end decided not to sign the deal. If it did, the sum for the firms would climb to €110 million, the Sme daily reported in its December 10 issue.

COMPANIES Hospital Catering Solutions and Dora Gastro Slovensko not only won the competition for supplying the food to patients and employees of the hospitals for 10 years in state-run facilities in Trenčín, Trnava, Banská Bystrica and Poprad, but also in Prešov. This last hospital, however, in the end decided not to sign the deal. If it did, the sum for the firms would climb to €110 million, the Sme daily reported in its December 10 issue.

The daily broke the story about expensive food for four state-run hospitals on December 8. It reported they will pay external caterers almost €81 million including VAT for 10 years. In comparison, some hospitals with private owners may pay as little as half as much for catering of what the aforementioned hospitals do, according to Sme.

Unlike the other hospitals, the facility in Prešov arranged the competition on its own, and not through an external firm. The only companies that made it to the shortlist were Hospital Catering Solutions and Dora Gastro. The former finally won the competition, offering €33 million including VAT, which was €1.7 million less than the bid from the latter, Sme wrote.

The Prešov hospital explained that it did not sign the deal because it did not agree on conditions with the external supplier in October and that it found out that the food supplies will not be as advantageous for them as they had first expected, according to Sme.

The hospital is led by Radoslav Čuha, who was considered to become state secretary of the Health Ministry after Zuzana Zvolenská left the post in early November and was substituted by then state secretary Viliam Čislák. Čuha, however, remained in his post and the function was given to someone else.

Sme wrote in its reports that the two companies are connected through Peter Bittó who worked as a general manager for one firm and as chair of the board of directors for the other one. Moreover, Karl Heinz Hauptmann is a member of the supervisory board of Dora Gastro, but also an authorised representative of a Czech company which is owned by majority shareholder of Hospital Catering Solutions: a Luxembourgian shell company Kanebo Investment.

Heads of hospitals in Trenčín, Banská Bystrica and Trnava obviously violated the law when signing the agreements with the companies. Andrej Leontiev from the TaylorWessing e/n/w/c law firm said that they should have asked the Finance Ministry for its opinion and the government for consent before signing the contract. This stems from the law on budget rules, he added, as reported by Sme.

The only hospital which did not need the agreement of the government was the one in Poprad. It is a joint-stock company, though its 100-percent owner is the state, according to Sme.

The dubious contracts will be discussed by the government at its December 10 session. Prime Minister Robert Fico asked Health Minister Čislák for the statement to the case.

The hospitals claim they had to carry out the competitions since their cafeterias were in very bad condition and they lacked money for their reconstruction. The reconstruction was to be secured by the “concessionaires”, and the price of reconstruction was reflected in the price of food. Even after deducting the costs on reconstruction, the prices were significantly higher than the spending on food in other Slovak and Czech state-run and private medical facilities, Sme wrote.

Source: Sme

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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