ON NOVEMBER 6, President Andrej Kiska accepted the resignation of Zuzana Zvolenská from the post of Health Minister and subsequently appointed ministry State Secretary Viliam Čislák as her successor. Both opposition and nurses union do not expect any significant change in healthcare policies, the TASR newswire reported.
Prime Minister Robert Fico called on Zvolenská and parliamentary deputy speaker Renáta Zmajkovičová to resign just days after the Sme daily and the private television station Markíza broke the story on the Piešťany Hospital of Alexander Winter buying a CT scanner with a price tag three times higher than similar devices in the Czech Republic.
“The process of the [public] procurement of the CT device in Piešťany raises doubts and it is not enough to react to those doubts by sacking the members of the board of directors, which has already happened,” Fico told the press on November 3, as quoted by TASR, adding that “the one who manages these people” must also leave.
Kiska, at the appointment ceremony, called for a proper investigation into the scandal and described the current state of health care as one of Slovakia’s gravest problems, with both patients and healthcare staff complaining about the situation. One problem is that healthcare services are a source of profit for some people, said the president, adding that it is time to begin fighting the sharks, according to TASR.
Speaking after his appointment, Čislák added that he is aiming to follow up with projects that have been launched by the ministry. He further declined to speculate as to whether or not he will manage to retain his post until the end of his term.
New Health Minister Viliam Čislák does not represent any significant change when compared to his predecessor, the Slovak Chamber of Nurses and Midwives stated on Thursday. Nevertheless, the chamber hopes that Čislák, who earlier served as Zvolenská’s deputy, will want to resolve the problems faced by the healthcare system and that he will not only be interested in areas in which EU funds can be drawn.
“We hope that the new minister will value healthcare staff more than his predecessor Zuzana Zvolenská did, and that he’ll be seriously interested in resolving the problems in Slovakia’s healthcare system,” reads a written statement provided to TASR by the chamber.
Similarly, the several opposition MPS stated they do not believe that anything will change at the Health Ministry, pointing out that both have worked for Penta financial group in the past, TASR was told on Thursday.
“If Čislák had a reformist spirit, he could have introduced many things even in the post of State Secretary,” Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) MP Viliam Novotný told TASR. “I expect that he’ll do nothing significant at the ministry, like Zvolenská. Moreover, Smer health ministers have never had any real powers.”
Compiled by Roman Cuprik from press reports
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