BOSTON (AP) - State Public Health Department officials say several years of budget cuts have caused the agency to lag behind on everything from investigating consumer complaints about medical facilities to ensuring that summer camps for children have enough life vests.

There's a wait of more than five months for investigating problems reported in Massachusetts hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, and clinics. Medical and biological waste from roughly 600 biotechnology firms is not being routinely monitored to ensure proper disposal.

The department has fewer than half the minimum number of inspectors required to meet federal standards for ensuring that food plants follow safe practices.

The shortfalls are detailed in a department budget memo obtained by The Boston Globe. The agency is asking for an additional $1.6 million from the state Senate.


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