After arrests in hospitals, ministry stops subsidies worth one billion, writes Cesnam Pravi – ČT24 – Czech TV

In response to the arrest of ten managers of regional hospitals on Monday, the Ministry of Regional Development stopped funding their projects from European grants. In total, it should support the amount of 959 million crowns, Seznam Zpravy found. According to the server, the leaders of the detained medical facilities are suspected of belonging to an organized crime group and they received bribes to be awarded certain public contracts. The European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) on Monday suspected corruption in the procurement of medical supplies for hospitals. Neither Zihlava Hospital nor Regional Health has detailed information about the termination of funding of their projects from European grants, said Ondrej Stirba, head of the Regional Health Board, and Monika Sakrolova, spokeswoman for Zihlava Hospital.

The National Center for Organized Crime (NCOZ) intervened, among others, at the Regional Health Headquarters in Ústí nad Labem and the Jihlava Hospital.

“As soon as we got information about the intervention, we stopped funding the Regional Health and Jihlava Hospital projects from European sources,” he said. A list of messages Spokesperson for the Ministry of Regional Development, Veronika Hesikova. There are fifteen projects in total. Heshikova said the corruption case was not necessarily linked to all projects. The entire resort has suspended patronage pending confirmation from NCOZ on who the victims of the scam are.

Regional Health is currently completing the construction of pavilions at Masaryk Hospital in Ústí, Děčín and Chomutov hospitals. For the Ústí hospital, it receives half a billion from European sources, and for the Děčín and Chomutov hospitals, 150 million crowns each. Štěrba does not yet have information on which projects the suspension of subsidies should concern. “We have financially resolved several equipment and construction stages. We will review what funds we should receive. I understand the decision of the Ministry of Regional Development, it is our duty to fight for regional health so that the possible loss of funds is as small as possible,” he said. The regional health board will discuss the implications of the move on Wednesday.

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The spokesperson said Jihlava Hospital has not yet received any official communication from the department regarding the suspended funds. Hejtman's health deputy Vladimir Novotny (SOCDEM) thinks this is only a preventive measure. “They do what they do without knowing what or how. I don't think it's going to happen because any job goes wrong. I really don't expect that,” Novotny said.

Searches were conducted by NCOZ 36 in eleven cities of the Czech Republic, at the homes and offices of the suspects and at two hospital administrations. Police arrested a total of ten people for corruption. According to the Seznam Zprávy server, among them, for example, the former director of regional health Petr Malý and his business assistant Pavel Voral or the head of Jihlava Hospital Lukáš Velev. They were representatives of companies that supplied equipment and other medical equipment to hospitals, the server added.

According to the EPPO, this is a criminal organization that has been active since at least 2022 and was created with the aim of systematically manipulating public contracts for medical supplies for hospitals. Without initiating the procurement process. The damage caused by corruption suspects to the EU budget when purchasing supplies for hospitals and the police have so far documented is almost one million euros, which is about 25 million crowns.

The European Public Prosecutor's Office said on Monday that the medical equipment involved in the case included operating tables, equipment for laparoscopic and arthroscopic surgery, endoscopes, defibrillators, surgical drills and ventilators. According to the investigation, pre-determined suppliers had the opportunity to participate in the formulation of tender conditions in the public procurement management system before being notified. Orders are thus placed according to given suppliers.

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The Vysosina region has not yet resolved the dismissal of the director of the Jihlava hospital

While the Regional Health Board in Ústí nad Labem dismissed Director Male from his post on the day of the intervention, Vítězslav Schrek (ODS and STO) Governor of Vysosina announced on Tuesday that he would not dismiss the Regional Council President. Jihlava Hospital, Lukas Velev. The governor did not directly confirm that he was among the people detained by the police on Monday. “Until now, we have dealt with the matter (appeal) only theoretically and we will wait. We have a period in which the police can detain anyone for a certain period of time. We think 48 hours will resolve it one way or another and then the supervisory authority or the prosecutor's office will decide what action will be taken.” We think so,” Schreck said.

In the absence of director Velev, who has been the head of the hospital since 2010, his deputies are handing over the management of the hospital.

According to the governor, detention is not a ground for appeal. “It can happen to any of us,” he said, adding that the founder of Jihlava Hospital did not want to wait for the region's next steps. But if there is one allegation, according to him, it will be a serious reason to settle the possible decision of Welle. The region will decide whether to conduct an extraordinary inspection of the hospital only on the basis of information from the police. “At this point we don't know what the problem is, so we don't even know what to focus on,” Schreck said. A regular scheduled financial audit was conducted at the hospital last year 2022.

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According to Jihlava Hospital spokesperson Monika Sakrolova, the NCOZ intervention lasted from six o'clock in the morning until evening on Monday. The hospital was functioning without interruption for patients during the police intervention. “It was impossible to get to the headquarters. Now it works normally,” Zakrlova described.

Even patients in hospitals in the Ústí region were not affected by Monday's event, restrictions were felt by staff in the administrative building of regional health in Ústí nad Labem. She was unreachable all day. On Tuesday, all were able to return to work, company spokeswoman Petra Rubikova said.

A new director, Tana Soharova, has taken over the position, succeeding the fired director Peter Mala. The Regional Health Board informed about the situation and changes in the management of the directors of the hospitals being established by the company. The Regional Health Department establishes seven of them, namely Děčín, Ústí nad Labem, Teplice, Most, Chomutov, Rumburk and Litoměřice.

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