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AIIMS mulls roping in govt agency, PSU for procurement of medical equipment

AIIMS, Delhi has formed a committee to explore the possibility of engaging a government agency or PSU to procure medical equipment and relieve staff, including faculty members, from procurement-related activities. The shortage of technical and trained personnel has led to a delay in procurement and affected patient care, teaching, and research, according to the AIIMS Director, who proposed engaging a PSA to expedite procurement and improve storekeeping functions.

AIIMS, Delhi
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The AIIMS administration here has constituted a committee to engage a government agency or a PSU for procurement of medical equipment to help expedite procurements and free the staff, including faculty members, from procurement-related activities. The ten-member committee will examine the benefits and modalities of engaging a government agency or PSU as a procurement support agency, according to an office memorandum issued recently. Making observations on the issue of procurement, AIIMS Director Dr M Srinivas said stores and procurement are usually handled by the same personnel, which is not in line with good governance practices. 

Often, outsourced staff is handling procurement, which is not appropriate. The store cadre is limited in strength due to which there is frequent unmet demand for stores and procurement personnel from various Centres and Departments, he was quoted as saying in the office memorandum. In many areas, as an interim arrangement, procurement work is being handled by administrative cadre staff who are not formally trained in procurement matters, he said.There are no biomedical engineers or similar technical staff in the store cadre to support the procurement of complex medical equipment in line with the current best practices globally. 

"Due to shortage of technical and trained personnel, clinical faculty are spending a lot of time in procurement-related activities which is in turn is affecting their time available for patient care, teaching and research," the AIIMS director said. The administration was also informed that in certain cases, procurements have been pending for two years due to shortage of procurement resources in some departments and stores. Noting that the Ministry of Health has engaged a PSU as 'Procurement Support Agency' for three Central government hospitals in Delhi, the memorandum said there is a possibility to engage a PSA for facilitating procurements in main hospital, centres and departments at AIIMS, New Delhi. 

"This can help expedite procurements as the PSA shall be contractually bound by strict timelines and shall also improve core storekeeping functions by freeing the existing staff from procurement-related activities and consequently shall also lead to relieving of all outsourced staff from stores and procurement related functions," the AIIMS director said. As the PSA shall have the database of procurement of medical equipment from across the country, this shall help in quicker finalisation of specifications and better benchmarking of prices, which can in turn result in higher efficiency and better prudence in procurement.

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