Doctors call for Thai health minister to be dumped

Doctors call for Thai health minister to be dumped

THAILAND - Hundreds of rural doctors and medical workers launched a rally outside Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's residence yesterday, demanding that she immediately remove the public health minister and his permanent secretary for not keeping promises.

However, Dr Kriangsak Watcharanukulkiat, president of the Rural Doctors' Society, also insisted his group were not part of the ongoing political rallies. Kriangsak led the protest.

The group called on Yingluck to get rid of Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong and permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat, saying they had not followed up on their promise to implement a Cabinet resolution to base medical allowances on a pay-for-performance principle.

Moreover, they said, the two had destroyed the image of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation and were interfering in the administration of the National Health Security Office.

Even though the ministry responded to the society on Monday, the doctors refused to believe that anything would be done. "We give the PM seven days for an answer, and if we don't hear anything, we will return," Kriangsak said.

The group began gathering at around noon yesterday outside a Tesco Lotus store near Ramindra-At Narong Expressway, before marching to the PM's residence. The protesters, armed with whistles, a national flag and banners demanding the ouster of Pradit and Narong, only managed to set up their protest a kilometre or so away as Yingluck's home was being guarded by 500 police.

Meanwhile, Dr Thapanawong Tangurai, vice-chairman of the Federation of Healthcare Work-force of Thailand, slammed the Rural Doctors Society for its behaviour, saying it was not appropriate to hold a demonstration outside the PM's home as it violated her basic rights as a citizen. He also said it was not the right time to talk about allowances.

"I agree with them, but this is not the right time or place," he said.

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