Korat hospital chief stunned by sudden transfer

Korat hospital chief stunned by sudden transfer

No reason given, but doctor had opposed procurement of Covid test kits deemed substandard

Dr Kriengsak Watcharanukulkiat, director of Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital, poses with a supporter holding a sign saying people in the province still need him. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)
Dr Kriengsak Watcharanukulkiat, director of Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital, poses with a supporter holding a sign saying people in the province still need him. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)

NAKHON RATCHASIMA: The director of Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital was stunned by an unexpected order on Friday to move him to another hospital without his request.

Dr Kriengsak Watcharanukulkiat said the Ministry of Public Health had ordered his transfer to Khon Kaen Hospital even though he had expressed no intention to leave his current post, which he only took up in September last year.

The order, dated Wednesday and signed by Dr Kiatiphum Wongrajit, the ministry’s permanent secretary, did not give reasons for the transfers that also involved 23 other senior officials. It said the transfer would take effect on Oct 1, the start of the new fiscal year when civil service job changes normally take place.

Dr Kriengsak was an outspoken opponent of the procurement of 8.5 million antigen test kits by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) on behalf of the National Health Security Office (NHSO), which oversees the universal healthcare programme.

Two other kits met the specifications drafted by an NHSO committee but the contract was awarded to the local distributor of cheaper Chinese-made kits that are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, among others.

The GPO subsequently sought to have a corruption investigation opened into Dr Kriengsak and a colleague for allegedly trying to obstruct the procurement of the essential kits.

About 30 local residents gathered on Friday to show support for the hospital director during his regular visit to a vaccination centre at the Central Plaza shopping centre in Muang district.

One of them said the transfer was a shock to them as it took place when the province was struggling with Covid outbreak and Dr Kriengsak had proved he was up to the job by seeking sufficient vaccines for local residents.

Nakhon Ratchasima was the 10th most affected province in terms of new infections with 270 cases, data from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration showed on Friday.


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