Audit: MOH Paid RM660,000 For Air Ambulance Services Without Contract

According to the AG’s report, direct payments for air ambulance services were divided into smaller amounts for the outbound and return trips to avoid a direct purchase limit of RM20,000.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 – Multiple payments made by the Sarawak State Health Department (JKNS) for air ambulance services to transport rural patients were found to be non-compliant with financial procedures, due to delays in securing a new contract.

According to the Auditor-General’s 2021 report (Series 2) released in Parliament last month, JKNS issued 43 payment orders for Flying Emergency Evacuation Services (MEDEVAC) worth approximately RM660,000 over three months from October to December 2022.

During the period in question, direct payments were made for MEDEVAC services in Sarawak without a valid contract in place, as the contract with Layang-Layang Aerospace Sdn Bhd (company registration number 243883-V) had expired on September 30, 2020.

The payments were calculated based on an hourly flight rate of RM6,388. A new contract with the same company would only take effect from January 1, 2021, and will remain valid until December 31, 2024.

The audit revealed that out of the total payment of RM660,000 made during the three-month period, over half of the amount (RM370,000) was allocated to 26 payment orders for 11 patients. In these cases, direct payments to each patient had to be divided into smaller amounts between two responsible parties, known as Pusat Tanggungjawab (PTJ), with one party covering the cost of the outbound trip and the other responsible for the return trip.

The audit report indicated that the payments were made without obtaining any specific approval.

According to an explanation provided by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in September 2022, it was revealed that JKNS had not yet obtained approval for direct purchases from the procurement official during the period between October and December 2020. 

“As a result, each PTJ was constrained by a direct purchase limit of RM20,000, and thus had to issue local orders that did not exceed this amount. This is the reason why JKNS utilised different PTJs to cover the outbound and return trips for the same patient,” the MOH said.

The audit report highlighted additional discrepancies in the allocation of seven air services, which were valued at around RM100,000 and carried out prior to receiving the necessary approvals. These approvals were delayed for a period ranging from one to 23 days.

The audit concluded that payments made in violation of financial procedures were attributed to delays in the preparation of a new contract.

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