Latvian National Health Service has spent EUR 40,000 to procure scales for family physicians, which they cannot even use. In 2011, NHS organized a procurement of scales for family physicians. The project was co-financed by Europe. Arbor Medical Corporation won this procurement with the lowest price.
Everything was fine for a couple of years, until Consumer Rights Protection Centre discovered that doctors cannot use those scales. Neither the officials who selected the supplier nor the supplier wish to take responsibility, as reported by Nekā personīga programme.
In 20111, NHS organized procurement in order to supply family physicians with cardiographs, visual examination tables, inhalers and other equipment. Scales were procured as well. Costs were planned to be covered using money from the European Regional Development Fund. Arbor Medical Corporation won the scales procurement contract. 209 scales manufactured by Japanese TANITA firm were supplied. Doctors bought the scales and then refunded up to 85% of the costs from the state. Scales were accurate, patients were weighted and no one complained. Later, however, it was uncovered that those scales do not comply with necessary requirements.
‘These scales cannot be used in the work carried out by physicians because they do not comply with necessary requirements established for medical equipment,’ – explains the head of Consumer Rights Protection Centre Baiba Vitolina.
All scales used in healthcare have to have special labels – a letter ‘M’ on a green background. The scales in question do not have such labels. NHS has informed doctors that they cannot weigh their patients using those scales.
The procurement project launched in good will with European funding failed dramatically. Because scales do not comply with requirements, Europe will not pay for them. With that, it seems NHS has spent EUR 40,000 on scales doctors cannot even use. Now it will be necessary to announce a secondary procurement.
NHS blames Arbor Medical Corporation for supplying faulty scales and misleading the procurement commission.
At first NHS asked the police to investigate the case. Police found nothing suspicious and told NHS to try the court. Ventspils Court ruled in favour of Arbor Medical Corporation. NHS has appealed the ruling of the court. Latvian Healthcare Ministry has taken the side of NHS. Ministers have not carried out any inspections as to whether or not scales were procured with no regard to regulations and why the company had not noticed anything strange before signing the procurement contract.