Ministry Cancels Controversial Ventilator Delivery Contract with Geneplanet

By , 05 May 2020, 11:23 AM Politics
A Siriusmed R30 ventilator A Siriusmed R30 ventilator Geneplanet

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STA, 4 May 2020 - The Health Ministry has decided to rescind a EUR 8 million contract with company Geneplanet for the purchase of 220 ventilators Siriusmed R30. This was proposed by Geneplanet after the ventilators came under fire as being unsuitable for Covid-19 patients.

Geneplanet has already delivered 110 of these ventilators to the Commodity Reserves Agency. The ministry decided to keep 90 of them under the condition that additional equipment be delivered, which would make them suitable for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Twenty ventilators, which are still at the Commodity Reserves Agency storage will be returned, while the rest, 110, will not be delivered, the ministry has told the STA.

The decision was sent by Health Ministry Tomaž Gantar to the head of the Commodity Reserves Agency Tomi Rumpf upon recommendation of a medical expert group headed by infectious diseases specialist Bojana Beović.

Geneplanet has said it wanted to rescind the contract so as to clear its name following allegation of favourable treatment in the procurement of the ventilators.

Moreover, internal medicine specialist Rihard Knafelj, a member of an expert group tasked with going over the bids to the state for ventilators has told the Tarča current affairs show of public broadcaster TV Slovenija that the expert group assessed the Siriusmed R30 ventilators as the least suitable of those they gave their go-ahead for.

Meanwhile, Tomislav Mirkovič, an UKC Ljubljana doctor, who used to head the hospital's intensive care unit, said at today's government coronavirus briefing that experts were fairly united in the view that the Siriusmed R30 is suitable for use on Covid-19 patients provided a compressor and an air humidifier with heated pipes are supplied additionally.

Geneplanet said today that all of the ventilators delivered to Slovenia already have a built-in compressor and that the company offered to upgrade them with a humidifier and double-heated pipes.

It reiterated that the ventilator is being used in a number of countries, had all the necessary certifications and had been tested in real life. "For most Covid-19 patients the current version of ventilators is appropriate," the company also said.

Geneplanet also said that all of the ventilators delivered had been tested and that many are already in use at hospitals in Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, Murska Sobota, Ptuj, Nova Gorica, Trbovlje, Slovenj Gradec, Izola and Brežice.

The company underlined that it had acted lawfully, with due diligence and in line with business practices in bidding to deliver the ventilators.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek is facing a vote of no confidence following allegations of wrongdoing in the procurement of ventilators.

Ivan Gale, deputy director of the Commodity Reserves Agency, alleged in Tarča a week ago that Počivalšek had instructed the agency to pay a 100% prepayment to Geneplanet in this deal.

Gale also told the newsportal today that Prime Minister Janez Janša's spouse, Urška Bačovnik Janša, who is a medical doctor, has also interfered in the procurement of equipment.

Gale forwarded to the newsportal an email showing that Bačovnik Janša had forwarded to Počivalšek in an email the contact of Miran Blatnik, the husband of Celje Hospital infection ward head Janja Blatnik and the director of Xan-Max, with which the agency signed a EUR 9.8 million contract on 21 March.

Publicly accessible data show that the contract was later rescinded. Bačovnik Janša tweeted in response, saying she believed that thousands of other people did the same. "My conscience and my dedication to the medical profession dictated that I did what I did," she tweeted, adding that only those used to getting commissions can see such motivations in her actions.

All our stories on the PPE scandal are here

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