RH criticizes recruitment at Vienna hospitals

In a recent report, the Court of Accounts examines acquisitions at public hospitals in Vienna. The reason for the review was the request from the ÖVP and the Greens. Contracts awarded in the healthcare association (WIGEV) from 2010 to 2021 were analyzed, and areas such as medical technology and consultancy services were examined. RH criticized, among other things, a non-transparent procedure, lack of documentation and conspicuous order quantities.

According to the Court of Accounts, it was only possible to determine how many awards were given by looking more closely at the figures. According to the auditors, WIGEV (hospitals association until 2020, KAV, note) did not have a complete overview of the awards in the relevant period. It has been criticized that the data state does not guarantee traceability. Some data was missing. The Court of Accounts first had to clean up the figures itself before conducting a more intensive review.

As a result, it was determined that a total of 1,456 acquisitions were made in the medical technology sector, each with a reward amount exceeding 50,000 euros, and the cost was 484.70 million euros. In addition, 44 consultancy services were purchased, each costing over 190,000 euros. However, the Court noted that there were no uniform rules regarding the conduct of the procedures. In the medical technology sector, approximately two-thirds of all orders over 50,000 euros were placed by WIGEV without the need for public announcement of the acquisition.

“In doing so, he acknowledged possible economic and technological disadvantages because he excluded potential competitors from the acquisition process due to lack of promotion,” the report said. The largest contractor, an unnamed “group of companies”, was therefore in a special position. Their share in order volume was 19 percent. It is said that no other company even comes close to this value.

It is also suspected that contracts were deliberately split into different lots in order to fall below the direct tender threshold. This is 100,000 euros. A significant number of awards are said to be just below this, meaning there is no need to call for tenders.

The Court of Auditors pointed out that naming or dividing the volume in this way is not allowed. “Urgent action is needed,” they said. In all cases, any possible circumvention of the Federal Procurement Act must be prevented. A high concentration on a few contractors was noted. The healthcare association placed about 52 percent of volume, or about 37 percent of orders, in the top ten companies, according to the Court of Accounts.

Auditors took a closer look at 55 businesses in the medical technology sector. Result: 38 awards were missing. The documentation, tender procedure or bid review was deemed inadequate. According to the report, there were also documents stated in vague terms. It has also been noted that bidders have repeatedly complained that tenders are often so specific that (assumed) points can only be covered by a single provider.

Commissions regarding consultancy services were also examined by the Court of Accounts. Here too, some violations of public procurement legislation were detected. In none of the procurement procedures examined by the Court of Accounts did it check whether the service could be provided by the company’s own employees.

The Court of Auditors recommended, among other things, the promotion of centralized procurement of medical services. They found that this would also make it possible to better exploit the market position. It was noted that while preparing tender documents, attention should be paid to product-neutral tenders. It was also requested that market research be conducted, which should be documented. A chief compliance officer would also be required, who should be exempt from the instructions, according to RH.

In a statement sent to APA, WIGEV argued that the highest value was given to “legally compliant handling of procurement procedures and full compliance with essential national and European legal standards.” In 2018, comprehensive changes and measures that “were not adequately followed in the past” had already been made. This means that such defects should no longer occur in the future. It was noted that the majority of the examples drawn by RH belonged to the period before 2018.

For example, reference was made to new guidelines for all types of procurement procedures to ensure a uniform approach. Procedural steps, such as checking the suitability of quotes and prices, will be performed and documented according to a predetermined, uniform process. It was also emphasized that the market in the medical technology sector is very small. This causes the number of bidders to decrease.

According to WIGEV, the company with the largest order volume holds 46 percent of the global market share in magnetic resonance devices. It was ensured that 15 of the 47 recommendations made by the Court of Accounts have already been implemented, while the remaining 32 are currently being implemented.

But the opposition saw itself confirmed. ÖVP club boss Markus Wölbitsch said in a joint publication of the ÖVP and the Greens that it had been shown, for example, that the previously known cases of “tailored tenders” were not isolated cases: “The Court of Auditors has now officially detected a suspicious procurement practice at WIGEV.” Green Party club president David Ellensohn has called on Councilor for Health Councilor Peter Hacker (SPÖ) to ensure a fix is ​​provided “as quickly as possible” in his area of ​​responsibility.

FPÖ spoke of a “mega scandal”. According to party leader Dominik Nepp, this can only result in the resignation of the City Councilor for Health Hackers and the entire board of directors of the health association. There are suspicions that “red favorites” are favored and taxes are wasted.


Source: Vienna


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