Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was not admitted to a VIP room at Police General Hospital and even the air-conditioning where he is staying is not up to par, authorities said on Wednesday.
Hospital staff had to provide two electric fans to make it comfortable for the high-profile patient who arrived overnight from Bangkok Remand Prison, said Pol Lt Gen Dr Sophonrat Singhajaru, chief physician at the hospital.
He also denied that the room where Thaksin is staying had a beautiful view. In fact it is adjacent to a glass wall and thus quite hot, the hospital chief said.
Dr Sophonrat was responding to reports and images circulating online, which purported to show a VIP room that resembled a five-star hotel suite on the 14th floor of the state hospital. Another image showed a view of the green expanse of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club.
Thaksin, 74, returned to Thailand on Tuesday after more than 15 years in self-exile abroad. Within a matter of hours he appeared in court, was sentenced to eight years in prison and taken to the Bangkok Remand Centre.
Prison officials placed him on a medical ward as he was found to be suffering from a variety of ailments, but within a few hours he was on the move again.
According to Dr Sophonrat, Police General Hospital was not contacted beforehand about the transfer.
At the Correctional Hospital, Thaksin was found to be suffering from acute chest pain, low blood oxygen and very high blood pressure. Doctors there tried to lower his blood pressure but with only limited success. They then decided to make an urgent referral to Police General Hospital, which has an agreement with the Department of Corrections to admit seriously ill patients in its custody.
Thaksin arrived at Police General Hospital in a Department of Corrections vehicle, the hospital chief said.
A blood pressure test showed a systolic pressure reading of 170, which is considered severely high. He was brought to the 14th floor of the Maha Bhumibol Rachanusorn 88 Phansa Building. Earlier the floor was reserved for Covid-19 patients, said Dr Sophonrat.
The hospital chief also denied a report that another patient had been discharged to clear a room for the billionaire former premier, who would have to pay for his treatment, he added.
Thaksin was receiving saline solution and a team of six doctors has been formed to treat him at Police General Hospital.
The team included doctors specialised in heart and lung disease and Covid-19 treatment. Thaksin was not chained because the law spares convicts younger than 16 years or older than 70 from any confinement tools that could otherwise obstruct treatment, Dr Sophonrat said.
Doctors reviewed Thaksin’s medical records from abroad and found that he had been receiving regular treatment for several conditions, he said.
Thaksin was said to be feeling slightly better on Wednesday morning. He still has high blood pressure and is being given oxygen via a nasal cannula. He can communicate but is tired and short of breath, his doctors reported.
Doctors have banned all visitors and are unable to predict how long Thaksin would have to stay at Police General Hospital, Dr Sophonrat said.
Sahakarn Phetnarin, deputy permanent secretary for the Ministry of Justice, said that if Thaksin were to be discharged from Police General Hospital, he would not be referred to any private hospital.
There had been unconfirmed reports earlier that one option under consideration was to have Thaksin brought to Praram 9 Hospital, in which the Shinawatra family are major shareholders.