The Georgetown Hospital’s Board has completed its probe into the nearly $632 million emergency procurement of drugs and has found grave recklessness in the handling of the matter by the former Acting Chief Executive Officer.
In a statement on the probe, the Board also found that the Health Minister never gave instructions to GPHC officials to bypass any procurement procedures or laws.
The Board said it found that at the beginning of the year, GPHC was facing a critical shortage of drugs and Hospital authorities cited the underestimation and late quantification of drugs; the annulment of a tender because a GPHC Finance Department employee tampered with a tender document; and the failure of some local suppliers to honour their 2016 contracts as reasons that contributed to the shortage.
“On 3rd February, 2017, Minister of Public Health, Honourable Ms. Volda Lawrence, held a meeting with then CEO (Ag) Mr. Allan Johnson and senior staff of the Finance and Pharmacy Departments of GPHC and compelled them to immediately devise a plan of action to alleviate the drug shortage as quickly as possible. The staff of GPHC reported that the Honourable Minister requested that the hospital take into consideration Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) emergency mechanism to supply pharmaceuticals, and also check with Materials Management Unit (MMU) of the Ministry of Public Health to ascertain whether they had any of the required drugs in stock”, the report said.
According to a statement, at a subsequent meeting that day, the Minister of Public Health reportedly listened to a plan of action developed and presented by the GPHC Finance Director which included determining availability of drugs from PAHO, MMU and local suppliers; obtaining quotations from suppliers; sending an evaluation report to National Procurement and Tender Administration (NPTAB) for approval, then followed by the award of tender. However, the Board found that the GPHC did not follow its own stated plan of action.
According tot the Board, the Procurement Act provides that any contract beyond the sum of $15 million must go through NPTAB, which then forwards it to Cabinet for review and approval.
The Former Acting Chief Executive Officer of GPHC, Allan Johnson wrote NPTAB seeking approval for the contracts after GPHC had begun to receive pharmaceuticals from the suppliers.
“The Board was shocked and disappointed to learn that GPHC had breached the law. New GPC supplied $20,888,610, Health2000 supplied $2,923,920, and Chirosyn Discovery supplied $2,138,925 worth of pharmaceuticals under the same flawed procurement process.”
The Board said it believes that the senior staff of the Finance Department had an ethical and professional duty to properly advise Mr. Johnson since this matter was within their realm of expertise. It aded that “Mr. Johnson had been known to trust and depend on his officers to do the right thing and it is regrettable that they failed him in this instance. However, ultimately the power was within Mr. Johnson’s judgment and signature, and he acted recklessly.”
Additionaly when the new Board was installed, the acting CEO at the time failed to disclose “this serious matter to the newly-installed members.”