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Arbo Unie contract under pressure

MAASTRICHT. The contract with Arbo Unie, which provides company medical care for the UM, will only be extended for one year. Arbo Unie started in 2012 and the contract was until 1 January 2016, with an option of an extension of two years before a public call for tenders would be issued again. The UM directors, however, felt that this period was too long.

About a year ago, there was a lot of criticism, in particular from the city centre faculties. There were complaints from the School of Business and Economics, which even reached the University Council, about poor accessibility of the company doctor and about bureaucratic sluggishness. The Executive Board announced its intention to have a serious word with Arbo Unie. The latter promised improvement; the decision about continuation of the contract would occur around September. In an evaluation report, the HRM department concluded that improvements had indeed been observed and that those were sufficient. The faculty and service department directors were a little less convinced and decided, in consultation with the Executive Board, that an extension of one year was sufficient. It was a little late in the day for a new public contract anyway. Arbo Unie agreed.

In the University Council’s Operational Management committee, HRM director André Koehorst came with some news two weeks ago, stating that there had already been two incidences again since the evaluation – he did not reveal any details – which put the relationship with Arbo Unie under pressure again. But, he said, “it is not just them, the UM also plays a role here: we should articulate our wishes better.”

There were questions from the committee about the contract itself, whether at the time of tendering the contract there was perhaps too much emphasis on the price, at the expense of quality. From the answers given by the Executive Board and the HRM department, it appeared that the contract was given to Arbo Unie because they scored well on a number of criteria, including quality. Unfortunately, the quality promised has not always been delivered. The company is now doing its best and even running at a loss in order to meet the requirements, it was said. Executive Board member Nick Bos: “That is no basis for a long-term relationship. That is why we now have a year to determine what we want.”

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