Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We were told to Buy Costly Equipments: DHS Delhi Government

Faced with a controversy about the high rates at which medical equipment for the medical centers at Commonwealth Games venues were being procured, directorate of health services (DHS), Delhi government has found the easy way out.

Most of these items will now be procured by the 21 hospitals that are managing the 35 centers. In a meeting last Monday, the hospitals were told about the decision and were given a list of 36 items, including ‘‘wall clocks with second arms’’, blood pressure instruments, automatic external defibrillators, stretchers, massage table with mattress, general medical exam kit, nebuliser, suction machine, short-wave diathermy, forceps and examination lights. Rates of some of these items have been mired in controversy after reports that they were several times higher than the prevalent market rates.

With just 45 days left, hospitals are not amused, even less so, sources say, because they have been asked to procure the items at the higher rates (from the DHS rate contract) which, if they do, they might risk audit objections, say senior medical officers of the hospitals. On the other hand, there is very less time left for a full-fledged tender process. Interestingly, for the past four years DHS has been undertaking the entire procurement process of these 40-odd items. However, as per the new scheme of things, it can only procure medicines, consumables, furniture, computers and refrigerators.

Delhi government director, health services, Dr S K Bhattacharjee is dismissive of the tender proposal. ‘‘We have given the hospitals the names of companies and rates. They just have to place the orders.’’ Asked why the decision was taken so late, he said: ‘‘There is nothing big in the list. The hospitals already have most of the items and it’s not logical to buy something for 15 days. They might need to buy a few items for which they have our rate contract. It was decided long back. Hospitals are always unhappy about something or the other. This is a matter of national pride and a decision has been taken. So that is how things will happen.’’

Interestingly, DHS maintains there is no need for tendering as there is already a rate contract. Asked why hospitals need to procure a short-wave diathermy, which has already been tendered by DHS, Dr Amit Banerjee, medical superintendent (MS) of Lok Nayak Hospital says the two companies from which DHS had to procure these equipment (according to some reports at very high rates) have refused to supply them. This means if a few hospitals do not have surplus of a given equipment, a short-term tender will need to be called. ‘‘Since the time we started e-tendering, the process has been extremely transparent. No crisis shopping will happen. We have most of the items. It is not as if somebody handed over us the list. We decided what items we needed,’’ Dr Banerjee added.

Hospitals say they were never given any procurement responsibility. In fact, sources say, in the first meeting on this matter in the dean office, MAMC, hospitals’ medical superintendents had refused. They reportedly gave in during the second meeting with the health secretary.

Among the medical superintendents Times City spoke to, only Dr P P Singh of Hindu Rao spoke about going by the rate contract. Dr Jile Adhar Singh of DDU talked about a ‘‘short notice tender’’ while others disconnected the phone when asked about Games procurement. Nobody commented about the money, but sources say each hospital may end up spending a few crore.


Aashish Sood said...

I have written a short piece on CWG at Do go through it and let me know!!!