Part of the regional and state funds authorized to face the coronavirus crisis have been used by the Community and the Madrid hospitals to purchase headphones, decorative vinyls, video surveillance equipment, or fire prevention equipment, as well as robots to operate knees or dermatological lasers. . With December 31, 2020 as the deadline to spend the bulk of the 3,346.37 million euros that corresponded to the region of the national fund against the pandemic, Madrid managers urged different purchasing departments not to miss the deadline with unfunded funds. As a result, at least twenty million were mobilized in the last three weeks of the year through emergency contracts (without advertising or competition between providers) that were justified by the needs created by the covid.
“The message that they transmitted from management to the rest was: ‘coffee for everyone, you have to spend more,” said a source who assured that the Community urged to spend the funds.
“The term [que da el Ministerio] of the Treasury is December 31, and we have spent everything, “countered a government spokesman from Madrid, although in reality it is accepted that there will be remnants to be spent in 2021 if the processing of the purchase had started before the end of 2020.” far-sighted, managers are always drawn to the attention so that they do not lose sight of the deadlines ”, he continued on the general call to make purchases. “Nothing has been done different from the usual actions at the end of each fiscal year in order to process all pending issues, as occurs in all Administrations, both local and regional, as well as of the State.”
“These expenses had to be processed before the end of the year”, confirmed from the Ministry of Health on various contracts for primary care.
The rule that regulates funds to fight the pandemic opened the possibility of adopting “any type of direct or indirect measure” to deal with the disease. Clinging to that wording, Madrid managers launched at the end of the year to rush the money available, closing a majority of contracts easily linked to the pandemic (protective equipment, respirators …) and a minority with a more diffuse relationship.
For example, 21,337.14 euros were spent on two snow plows and two salt spreaders for the Immediate Logistics Response Team of Civil Protection Volunteers (to care for the sick in places with difficult access, explains the Executive). Or 110,003.30 in a video surveillance system “of vital importance to be able to face the pandemic” for the La Paz hospital, which also acquired decorative vinyl “essential to act against the pandemic” by humanizing the hospital (53,966), or decided to replace of the fire detection center (for 38,593.20) to protect new rooms enabled by the influx of patients with covid.
Gregorio Marañón, for his part, justified the expenditure of 2.5 million euros on a PET-CT with the argument of the lung conditions of those infected by the covid, and that the virus has generated a long waiting list, the latter reasoning that also supported the investment of 280,000 euros in a digital mammography equipment. In addition, in a macro-contract of 2 million euros, it included items such as carpentry material, furniture repairs, mattress maintenance, or lingerie.
The San Carlos Clinic acquired a robot to operate on knees (514,552.50), another to pack blisters (157,300), or a dermatological laser (90,750 euros), according to the information published on the recruitment portal.
And in primary care, it was decided, for example, to spend 1.2 million euros on the concept “supply of 7,000 headphones with a COVID19 microphone” to facilitate telephone service.
“We have all done it.” This phrase, pronounced by several people familiar with the internal functioning of hospitals, summarizes the situation that occurred at the end of the year in many Madrid centers, which had to start spending the covid funds, given by the central government to the Community .
But it was not the same in all hospitals. Some, especially the larger ones, began to plan the expenditure of that reserve with more time and invested in the necessary improvements to face the health crisis, which has been going on for more than ten months. For others, smaller, the issue accelerated when the year was ending. Because that expense should be included in the 2020 fiscal year. Everyone, of course, has spent the last days of December immersed in paperwork to prepare all the management part of justification of that expense.
In general, say sources familiar with the operation of Madrid hospitals, management directors “do not risk” releasing money without first having what is called “spending compliance”, that is, authorization by the Community to spend that money. And the problem, as those interlocutors also explain, was that the authorization came “very late” from the Treasury, despite the fact that, in general, all the centers requested it in advance. In parallel, the last delivery of state covid funds was in December itself, which limited everyone’s ability to act (the others arrived in July, November and September).
“If they had positioned the money in January, we would have had the whole year,” they explained from a hospital about the abundance of contracts in the last weeks of last year.
Thus, the contracting portal is full of signed commitments to acquire tables, lockers or chairs, with the argument that it has been necessary to reorganize the spaces and services to face the increase in patients caused by the covid. But just as in the first wave there were expenses in television cards (from the Fuenlabrada hospital: 60,984 euros in April) now there have been in polar linings (6,437.20 euros, from the Clinic). Everything, those contracts say, to fight the coronavirus.