Govt lost over Rs 43 lakh due to idle equipment in hospitals:CAG
New Delhi, Mar 22:) The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has criticised the government for not having any procurement planning for equipment by hospitals and institutes, resulting in idling of the investment of Rs 46.37 lakh, damage to equipment and denial of diagnostic facilities for patients.
The CAG, in its report presented to Parliament, pointed out that the audit scrutiny of the Safdarjung Hospital and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases revealed that high value equipment had been purchased without assessing the cost of consumables required for operating it and ensuring availability of suitable space for installation as well as trained manpower.
Safdarjung Hospital purchased a Gas Sterlizer from Germany for treating burn patients at a cost of Rs 27.8 lakh without first assessing the cost of consumables, resulting in its being used for less than one month during the past ten years.
The hospital which received the equipment in November 1993, installed it after a delay of one year in November 1994 as necessary infrastructure facilities like room with electric work and continuous water supply with required pressure was not ready.
The equipment stopped functioning on December 16, 1994 after less than one month of its commissioning as the hospital had not ensured continuous availability of reagents essential for the operation of Gas Sterlizer after the quantity of reagents supplied by the firm, along with the equipment was exhaused. Thereafter the hospital did not purchase the reagents due to their prohibitive cost and the equipment remained non-functional.
Similarly, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases purchased an Elisa Processor costing Rs 18.57 lakh without first ensuring availablity of suitable space for its installation as well as trained manpower. This resulted in idling equipment for about six years, depriving the patients of the diagnostic facilities, the reported said.
Morever, improper storage of the equipment for two years resulted in its getting damaged and additional expenditure of Rs 2.75 lakh on its repair.
The CAG said the equipment was purchased in June 1999, but NICD installed it in the corner of an old laboratory and did not use it thereafter. Subsequently, the equipment was shifted to a newly built laboratory in 2001 where it was noticed that due to improper storage conditions rats had caused damage to fluid pipes, electric wiring and shielding. It was not installed and continued to remain non functional.
The matter regarding functioning of equipment remained under correspondence with DGHS and suppliers till November 2002 when the supplier informed NICD that since equipment got damaged due to improper storage at NICD, repair charges would be borne by the latter. In August 2003, NICD agreed in principle to bear the cost of damaged spares estimated at Rs 2.75 lakh.
This cost was payable only after the equipment was installed and demonstrated to be working to the satisfaction of NCID.
Though the equipment was finally installed in July 2004, it was not made operational due to non-availability of trained staff. NICD requested the supplier in March 2005 to train one officer and two technicians so that equipment could be made functional. Further development in the matter was awaited.
The CAG referred the matter to the health and family welfare ministry in May 2005. The reply to the matter regarding Safdarjung hospital was still awaidted, in the second case the DGHS has admitted to a lapse on the part of NICD.