HOSPITAL CRISIS

Firm where ex-Madrid health chief works takes over lucrative medical contracts

Juan José Güemes helped privatized analysis services at six regional hospitals

A company where a former Madrid health commissioner works has taken over a lucrative contract at six public hospitals to conduct medical analysis for patients, a radio station reported on Friday.

According to documents and information obtained by the SER radio network, Juan José Güemes, who served as Madrid health chief under ex-premier Esperanza Aguirre from 2008-2010, privatized the medical analysis services at six area hospitals, one year before leaving government.

After joining the private sector, Güemes become a paid advisor last June at Unilabs España, the local affiliate of the Swiss multinational medical giant. In November, Unilabs bought 55 percent of the Catalan-based Balagué Center, which formed part of a partnership of UTE BR Salud, the company that won the contract in 2009 to take charge of the medical analysis at the public hospitals. Unilabs also participated in the bidding at the time but didn’t win the contract.

The Popular Party (PP) government of Ignacio González now plans to outsource the management at the same six hospitals and 27 health centers across the region.

The six hospitals are Infanta Sofía (San Sebastián de los Reyes), Infanta Cristina (Parla), Infanta Leonor (Vallecas), Sureste (Arganda), Henares (Coslada) and Hospital del Tajo (Aranjuez).

Asked about the matter by EL PAÍS on Friday and whether there was a conflict of interest, Güemes declined to comment.

But current regional premier, González, defended Güemes. “He left the health commissioner’s post nearly four years ago. How long does he have to wait to work in the health sector?” González said during TVE’s morning breakfast show program.

Güemes become a paid advisor last June at Unilabs España

He added that two years was enough time for any public official to stay away from working in a sector he or she represented while in government. “We didn’t award anything; that contract had already been awarded,” said González, who was deputy premier under Aguirre when the bidding for the hospital analysis contract took place.

Güemes, who was considered an up and coming star in Aguirre’s cabinet, is married to PP confessional lawmaker Andrea Fabra, who last summer came under criticism following an address in the lower house by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who announced that he was scaling back unemployment benefits for the jobless.

Fabra was captured on camera yelling “screw them” after the opposition Socialists began jeering. She later clarified that her comments were directed to the Socialists and not the unemployed as many believed. Her father is Carlos Fabra, the controversial former provincial administrator in Castellón.

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