Hospitals violated the law

Audits focused on tenders; some purchases were overpriced by up to 167 percent.

(Source: Sme)

A number of errors and violations of the law has been revealed by a major audit at nine state-run university and faculty hospitals across Slovakia carried out by the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) between February and October.

Inspection reports from Bratislava’s and Košice’s university hospitals, as well as those from faculty hospitals in Trenčín, Banská Bystrica and Prešov, will be sent to law enforcement authorities for investigation of dubious tenders, the TASR newswire reported.

The public procurement processes for purchasing medical equipment at these hospitals involved a great deal of non-transparency.

“In many cases, the tenders were won by companies that had been contacted by the hospitals beforehand in order to assess the estimated cost of the work,” said Daniela Bolech Dobáková, spokesperson for NKÚ, as quoted by TASR. “These companies were informed about the price level and the intention to launch a tender in advance. So, they were given a competitive advantage over other participants in the tender.”

The audit focused on orders worth over €200,000, she added.

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In other cases, auditors pointed to overpriced purchases of medical equipment in which prices increased by between 32-167 percent, stated Bolech Dobaková.

The Health Ministry respects the outcome of the NKÚ audit and is fully prepared to cooperate with NKÚ’s inspection activities in the health-care sector in the future as well, said its spokesperson Stanislava Pondelová.

The ministry has launched 26 projects to improve the health care situation, mainly by setting up transparent and efficient processes in the sector, Pondelová added. She mentioned the establishment of the Office for Managing Subordinate Organisations which, inter alia, supervises hospitals. Thanks to this office, individual hospitals can no longer carry out tenders and purchase equipment without the ministry’s knowledge.

“In addition, the office is responsible for the central supervision of financial reports of hospitals as well as the implementation of projects,” Pondelová said, as quoted by TASR. “It’s also advising hospitals on how to save money.”

The audit of nine Slovak hospitals started in February and covered the past five years. It focused on faculty hospitals in Nitra, Banska Bystrica, Prešov, Nové Zámky (Nitra Region), Trenčín, Žilina and Trnava, and university hospitals in Bratislava and Košice. Inspections are set to continue at other hospitals, TASR wrote.

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