Bulgaria’s caretaker health minister halts 11th-hour deals by predecessor

Bulgarian caretaker Health Minister Miroslav Nenkov on August 21 became the latest cabinet minister to seek the fix the mess left by his Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet predecessor, calling a halt to last-minute public procurements worth millions of leva and attempting rapid surgery on the Sofia emergency services situation.

Nenkov told reporters that a large sum of money had been taken from the Health Ministry budget in connection with the amendments to the National Health Insurance Fund budget and the withdrawal of this sum would seriously hamper the work of the ministry.

It would be necessary to restructure all payments by the ministry, Nenkov said.

He said that in the closing days of the now-departed cabinet (the BSP cabinet left after just 14 months in office amid widespread public disapproval) very large public procurements had been initiated.

This, Nenkov said, “immediately attracted our interest and attention because the cases involve huge sums of money”. An example was a public procurement regarding electronic health care worth 12 million leva (about six million euro).

Nenkov said that he had suspended the procedure and the money would not be lost.

Germany had a programme that would train Bulgarians in electronic government, with the German government picking up the bill.

Nenkov said that five million leva had been set aside for repairs at emergency medical aid services in small towns and municipalities. But this was unlawful because the facilities involved were municipal property and the Health Ministry, by law, could not spend this money at properties it did not own.

In all, Nenkov has called a halt to public procurements adding up to about 30 million leva.

The health minister in the now-departed ruling axis cabinet, Tanya Andreeva, made a number of 11th-hour changes in management positions at hospitals.

Another controversial move was the set of changes made at Sofia’s emergency medical services, including the replacement of its chief.

The caretaker cabinet has restored Georgi Gelev as director of emergency medical aid in Sofia, saying that he been only temporarily replaced while ill.

Nenkov announced a number of other changes, including that, in cases where people died on the street, their remains would not be collected by emergency services ambulances, but by staff using vehicles from Alexdrovska Hospital.

Nenkov also announced a reform to the ambulance system by which injured patients would be transported to the nearest hospital, along with a system for co-ordination of information on which hospital an injured person should be transported to on the basis of beds available.

This step would make it possible for there to be complete clarity on which hospital a patient should be transported to, “instead of him being driven back and forth across Sofia, as has happened many times,” Nenkov told reporters.

(Photo: Brian Hoskins/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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