PM orders health chief reinstated

PM orders health chief reinstated

In this March 12 photo public health permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat receives flowers from officials who came to offer  moral support at the ministry following PM's order transferring him to a special adviser post at the PM’s Office. (Bangkok Post file photo)
In this March 12 photo public health permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat receives flowers from officials who came to offer moral support at the ministry following PM's order transferring him to a special adviser post at the PM’s Office. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Public health permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat has been reinstated after a five-month hiatus following his prolonged conflict with an agency over its management of the universal healthcare budget.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha signed the order reversing Dr Narong's transfer to an inactive post on Tuesday. It will take effect tomorrow.

On March 11, Gen Prayut ordered transfer of Dr Narong to the Prime Minister's Office as a special adviser to the prime minister on research and national health development. The transfer was widely opposed by health officials who supported permanent secretary, who will retire on Sept 30.

His transfer came a week after the issuance of a prime ministerial order establishing a committee chaired by Commerce Ministry permanent secretary, Chutima Bunyapraphasara, to investigate allegations that Dr Narong's had incited conflict among health agencies and not followed the government's healthcare strategy.

According to the reinstatement order, the investigation has ended. Its findings, however, have not yet been released.

The March 11 transfer came after lengthy conflicts between the Public Health Ministry's Permanent Secretary Office, headed by Dr Narong, and the National Health Security Office over its management of UC funds.

Dr Narong blasted the NHSO for alleged poor management of the UC budget allocation, which he said had caused financial problems for a number of PSO state hospitals.

He proposed that the NHSO should allow the PSO to manage the budget itself, but the health-security office strongly disagreed, saying the PSO's proposal could create conflicts of interest.

The conflict escalated, ultimately forcing the prime minister to intervene, after the PSO issued an order to its hospitals to stop carrying out its role as registration units for the NHSO's UC members from April 30 this year.

The transfer was opposed by many health officials who said Dr Narong had tried to solve conflicts in the healthcare system that prevented health staff from providing good care to patients.


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