Doctors demand Pradit graft probe
The Rural Doctors Society (RDS) has stepped up its protest against Public Health minister Pradit Sinthawanarong by instigating a check of his activities for corruption.
- Published: 25/04/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
About 500 members of the Rural Doctors Society and partner organisations gather at the Public Health Ministry to demand the resignation of Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong over his decision to replace part of their hardship allowance with the controversial pay-for-performance (P4P) scheme. SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOKNAKORN
More than 500 people from the RDS and partner organisations, including the Foundation for consumers and patients' groups, gathered at the ministry Wednesday to demand Mr Pradit leave his post.
Arak Wongworachart, the society's former president, said the protest has gone beyond conflicts between the RDS and Dr Pradit over the minister's decision to replace part of their hardship allowance with a pay-for-performance (P4P) scheme.
RDS believes the minister put the scheme into place to give a boost to private hospitals' business prospects.
The P4P scheme, which the RDS and many rural hospitals oppose, will eventually prompt doctors to leave the public health system, Dr Arak predicted.
Private hospitals will then have a bigger pool of medical personnel to choose from, he said.
RDS president Kriangsak Watcharanukulkiat said the society is investigating the ministry's 147-million-baht project to provide blood glucose meters to village health volunteers nationwide.
Since the meter needs test strips _ which are sold separately _ to function, Dr Kriangsak is concerned the procurement of more than 80,000 meters will allow the device's supplier to monopolise the sale of test strips.
He said the RDS is collecting evidence on the project and will submit it to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Rawai Phupaka, president of the labour union of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO), which joined the rally Wednesday, said the union will support the RDS's attempt to investigate Dr Pradit.
He said the union is upset with Dr Pradit's comments about alleged corruption in the GPO's vaccine plant construction. He said Dr Pradit's indiscretion had ruined the GPO's reputation.
"He should wait for the investigation to end before making comments," Mr Rawai said.
The minister supplied information regarding alleged irregularities in the GPO's 1.4-million-baht construction of an influenza vaccine plant in Saraburi's Tab Khawang district to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), which is investigating the case.
Mr Rawai said the DSI's probe is aimed at discrediting the GPO to pave the way for private pharmaceutical companies to control the drugs market.
Dr Pradit said his policies are all intended to improve the public's health. "I can say that our public health policy is transparent," he said.
The performance-based scheme is a fair solution for medical professionals, he said. It will increase efficiency in the public health system by encouraging medical personnel to work to the best of their abilities, he added.
Dr Pradit said he is prepared to discuss the scheme with the RDS. He said it could be made flexible to suit each hospital's location and doctors' experiences.
He expressed regret that the RDS has refused to enter into any discussions with the ministry, and denied he had attempted to discredit the GPO.
About the author
- Writer: Paritta Wangkiat
- Position: Reporter