After three days of being bombarded by the Parliamentary opposition to fix procurement lapses in the public health system, the government on Wednesday said it has plans to do just that.
Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence announced a reassessment of providers of medical supplies to the Georgetown Public Hospital which will likely see the discontinuation of existing contracts and stricter adherence to the Public Procurement Act.
During her presentation to the Budget debates on Wednesday, Minister Lawrence said the Georgetown Public Hospital has embarked on a number of initiatives to improve accountability and its adherence to the recommendations of the Public Procurement Commission and the Public Accounts Committee.
The GPHC had come under criticism from both bodies on several occasions over its procurement practices, which were found to be in breach of the law and accompanying regulations.
The hospital had undergone a probe by the PPC into the nearly $632 million emergency purchase of drugs and was in the end found wanting in several regards.
But Lawrence assured that this was soon to become something of the past.
The Minister said the Hospital has begun separating the functions of the Procurement and Stores management and is in the process of re-establishing the Departmental Tender Board.
Additionally, it is reviewing the performance of suppliers who fail to honor their tender obligations and supply poor quality drugs and medical supplies with the aim of increasing the number of suppliers of drugs, medical supplies, and services.
This will, in turn, reduce the GPHC’s dependence on only a few suppliers.
Lawrence said there will be stricter adherence to the Public Procurement Act and the computerization of the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies management systems.
These changes, the Minister believes, will have a positive impact on improved patient care, increase transparency in the procurement and stores management processes and reduce the processing time to procure drugs and medical supplies.
She said it is expected that there will be reduced dependence on the National Procurement and Tender Board Administration and disposal of unserviceable items such as old beds, chairs and tables.
In 2018, $3.1 billion dollars of the GPHC budget will be allocated towards the procurement of drugs and medical supplies.