NEWS

Hospitals favored Siemens deals

A parliamentary committee investigating Siemens, the German electronics and engineering giant alleged to have paid the Greek state to secure lucrative contracts for security systems and in the transport and telecommunications sectors, has been given an 800-page report with details of dozens of agreeements the firm is alleged to have signed with Greek hospitals, Kathimerini has learned. According to the report by state health inspectors, the company signed 164 contracts with hospitals and provided them with allegedly overpriced equipment for years. The report said the contracts were awarded directly to Siemens with hardly any negotiation between the firm and the hospital managers. This state of affairs is alleged to have resulted in a compromise in quality and in overcharging for equipment and maintenance. According to Leonidas Grigorakos, a ruling PASOK deputy on the investigative committee who is also a lung specialist, the replacement of tubes on the CAT scan machine at the Thriasio Hospital in Elefsina cost more than half a million euros in the five-year period from 2004-09. From an initial reading of the 800-page report, MPs on the committee suspect that Siemens had been raising and dropping prices for equipment as it saw fit, sources have told Kathimerini. The official dispatched to inspect the general hospital in Giannitsa, northern Greece, said the institution’s directors were being systematically overcharged. «The hospital’s statistics for annual spending on the maintenance of medical ventilators and anesthesia machines is higher than the value of the equipment as stated in the contract,» the official wrote in the report. An extract by the inspector who visited the general hospital of another northern town, Kilkis, goes even further. «There was no evidence of any market research conducted by the hospital into the possibility of comparative evaluations of two or more companies. There were no negotiations between the hospital and company with the aim of improving prices, which resulted in the company unilaterally setting prices.»