Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister defends personnel changes

Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov has defended his recent actions including the pensioning off of the head of the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases and the changes of management at two major hospitals in Sofia.

Earlier this week, Katsarov sent Professor Todor Kantardzhiev, 66, who was a member of the now-disbanded national operational headquarters against Covid-19, on pension. The move has led to protests among the centre’s staff, while Kantardzhiev also has publicly objected.

“There is nothing exceptional, extraordinary or heroic about an employee of the administration retiring when he reaches retirement age,” Katsarov said in a statement released by the Health Ministry on June 9.

Katsarov said that all of society knew of the reasons for changes of management of the Lozenets and Alexandrovska hospitals.

According to media reports, there has been an attempt to block the recording of the change of management of Lozenets Hospital in the Registry Agency.

“The law entitles the minister, when he finds serious violations, to change the managers of the medical establishments. The role of the Registry Agency is to enter these changes in the register.

“The agency’s refusal to do so goes beyond its legal powers,” Katsarov said.

“What are they actually trying to tell us with this action – we are untouchable, we can do everything with impunity, you can’t even change us. We can. This refusal can at most delay the events by a few days, put at risk the staff of the hospitals, the bedridden.”

The responsibility for this will be both the former directors of the medical establishments and the director of the Registry Agency, Katsarov said.

He called on the Minister of Justice to verify the legality of the actions of the director of the Registry Agency and, if he finds that she has exceeded her powers and violated the law, to dismiss her from her post.

“I also want to send a very clear message that some people, executive or other directors, are trying to present themselves to the public as victims. Those who have been standing on the state table for years and have done whatever they want are not victims.”

Katsarov said that the victims are those more than 20 000 Bulgaria “who died last year as a result of the poor management of the health system, the outrageous management of the crisis by Boiko Borissov and his people”.

The caretaker Health Minister said that he was determined, and would have no hesitation, to “reveal the whole truth about this government and the reasons that led to this extremely high mortality, unknown in our country since the First World War”.

“I have absolutely no doubt about the correctness of my actions and no hesitation to continue on the path I have started,” Katsarov said.

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