Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said his ministry is being ‘ripped off’ over the purchase of non-medical supplies from local distributors.
Speaking in Parliament earlier this week during the 2018 Budget debate, Deyalsingh said that through the Regional Health Authorities, government was paying as much as 46 times the online retail cost of non-medical supplies such as bolts, pins and other items required for orthopaedic surgeries.
“It is well-known that our hospitals cannot perform the amount of orthopaedic surgeries for patients simply because the RHAs (Regional Health Authorities) have to buy orthopaedic supplies from local distributors.”
“Orthopaedic supplies – pins, bolts, plates – are not part of the drug procurement process, so the RHAs, over the years, purchased these from third parties.”
“(Local RHAs) spent collectively TT$26 million simply buying bolts, pins, joints, from local suppliers,” he said.
Deyalsingh said upon investigating, he realised that the cost of these items had been marked up over 400 percent in some cases.
Deyalsingh displayed a titanium plate which had been purchased.
“This is a 405 titanium plate. Do you know what is the online price for this same plate from the same manufacturer, to the same specifications? This plate is US$18. Do you know how much the RHAs pay local suppliers for this same plate? $5,800,” he said.
“This is why you can’t perform enough orthopaedic surgeries…we are being ripped off.”
“This is an absurdity and I’m telling the people of Trinidad and Tobago now that as Minister of Health, this is going to be brought under central tender purchase,” he said.
He said NIPDEC has agreed to do a special tender and government will outlining a list of specifications in conjunction with PAHO (Pan-American Health Organisation).
He added that he has been given contacts for two orthopaedic specialists by the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association who have ‘no commercial interests’ who will assist with the procurement of these items.
Deyalsingh promised that the situation would be resolved within six months to a year from now.