Embattled hospital chief transferred again

Embattled hospital chief transferred again

Days after winning back old job and still fighting bribe allegations, doctor sent to Roi Et

Dr Charnchai Chanvorachaikul is greeted by health personnel of Khon Kaen Hospital on the first day of his return to work as the hospital director on Friday. But the Ministry of Public Health is moving him again next week, this time to Roi Et. (Photo by Chakkrapan Natanri)
Dr Charnchai Chanvorachaikul is greeted by health personnel of Khon Kaen Hospital on the first day of his return to work as the hospital director on Friday. But the Ministry of Public Health is moving him again next week, this time to Roi Et. (Photo by Chakkrapan Natanri)

KHON KAEN: It was supposed to be a happy return to Khon Kaen Hospital for Charnchai Chanvorachaikul, but the embattled hospital director got a shock when he learned he was being transferred again.

Dr Charnchai was warmly welcomed by his staff on Friday, the first day of his return to his old position, after having been shunted to work at the Ministry of Public Health by assisting the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in June.

But now the ministry has told him to report to Roi Et Hospital, where he is scheduled to take over as director on Oct 16.

The earlier transfer to the ministry was made to clear the way for an investigation into an allegation that Dr Charnchai had received kickbacks from pharmaceutical firms that wanted the hospital to carry their products. The money went to a fund to improve the hospital.

The ministry in June ordered an investigation into a claim made by an academic that 186 hospitals had been given back at least 5% of the money they had paid for medicines from a number of pharmaceutical firms. The funds were described as donations.

The ministry maintains that personnel at Khon Kaen Hospital were the first to raise the kickback allegation against Dr Charnchai with ministry officials. But the doctor’s supporters rallied to his side and demanded his reinstatement.

Dr Charnchai filed a lawsuit against then permanent secretary for public health, Sukhum Karnchanapimai, who ordered his transfer, along with five others for alleged dereliction of duty.

He denied wrongdoing, saying the money he received was a donation to the hospital improvement fund and it was made in a transparent manner, according to Hfocus, a website that monitors health issues.

The ministry finally gave in to pressure from hospital staff by reinstating Dr Charnchai, effective from Oct 1. But the investigation is still ongoing, it said.

Dr Charnchai was greeted warmly by hospital staff when he returned on Friday, but he refused to comment on the ongoing controversy.

“We are glad and proud to have Dr Charnchai back as the director of Khon Kaen Hospital. That is the justice we have been fighting for,” said Kanokwan Sriraksa, a doctor at the hospital.

But less than 12 hours after his arrival, Dr Charnchai received another order signed by the new permanent secretary, Kiattiphum Wongrajit, saying he had been named director of Roi Et Hospital from Oct 16.

It was the same permanent secretary who gave him the green light to return to Khon Kaen in an order signed on Oct 1, the first day he took the top bureaucratic job at the ministry.

Dr Kiattiphum said on Friday the new transfer was fair and was routine as Dr Charnchai had run Khon Kaen Hospital for five years, according to several media reports.

He denied the transfer was intended to pressure the Khon Kaen Hospital chief to withdraw the lawsuit filed against Dr Sukhum, according to the reports.

Dr Charnchai questioned the decision to move him from Khon Kaen Hospital but said he accepted the order from his supervisor.


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