Minister warns of delays in hospital supply tenders and of price-fixing

Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos warned on Wednesday of stiffer fines on hospital suppliers who fix prices and of lengthy delays in tenders for procurement contracts.

According to data presented by the ministry, the country’s 82 public hospitals belonging to the National Health System (ESY) are currently muddling through 6,600 tenders for procurement programs that date back to 2011.

Lykourentzos said that the ministry is considering using an electronic platform on which to conduct the competitions in order to speed up the time they take.

He also cited the recent example of a competition for an artificial kidney filter during which all 15 companies entering the bidding process had quoted the exact same price. He said that penalties will become a lot stiffer for such price-fixing practices.

Meanwhile, in response to pressure from international creditors to plug a financing gap of around 1.2 billion euros in the budget of the country’s biggest healthcare provider, EOPYY, Deputy Health Minister Marios Salmas assured yesterday that contributions will not be increased to make up for the shortfall.

Speaking on Skai TV, EOPYY chief Lefteris Papageorgopoulos said the organization had a budget of 11 billion euros in 2012 and 6.1 billion euros in 2013, and is expected to end the year above the target, at around 7 billion euros in expenditures. He argued that the discrepancy in the apparent funding gap is due to the way in which the budget is balanced.