site.btaUPDATED Audit Finds Financial Irregularities at Sofia's Pirogov Hospital, Political Motives Suspected
An audit at Sofia's Pirogov emergency hospital in the period between June 2022 and July 2023 established financial irregularities and found the hospital to be in a bad financial condition, Health Minister Hristo Hinkov told the press ahead of a meeting of the parliamentary health committee. He said that prosecutors are expected to look into the matter.
Approached by BTA for comment, the head of the parliamentary health committee, Kostadin Angelov, said that the audit findings need to be verified by an external audit. He fears "political appetites" in Pirogov.
Established in 1951, Pirogov is one of the country's largest hospitals and a leader in the field of emergency medical services.
A report by the Health Ministry audit unit has been presented to Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov and the head of the parliamentary health committee. The authorities are planning to discuss the audit findings with the Pirogov director, said Hinkov.
Asked if he would fire the hospital director over the audit findings, the Minister said that was "unlikely".
The head of the parliamentary health committee was asked by the press if he doubts the audit conclusions and he said that he "always has doubts because he has seen a lot of Health Ministry audits which do not pass the test of verification by control authorities including the State Financial Inspectorate and the National Audit Office".
Angelov said that the Pirogov director most certainly can't be fired over the audit findings and added that he has received an alert from the Pirogov director that he has come under pressure. "What I see is political appetites in the position of the Pirogov director," said he, declining to go in greater detail.
He also said that politically motivated replacements of hospital managers or directors of state institutions won't be allowed, "if we find that they have been doing a good job".
Dr Valentin Dimitrov, the Pirogov director, said in a press release later in the day that the health minister's allegations are at variance with the hospital's real financial condition.
According to Dimitrov, the hospital's debt has been cleared and Pirogov does not owe a single lev in overdue liabilities. As of June 30, 2022, around the time he took over as CEO, Pirogov had BGN 2,675,000 in losses and BGN 17,460,000 in overdue payments to suppliers. In November 2023, it has a profit of BGN 1,012,000, and at the same time the National Health Insurance Fund owes it BGN 5,087,000 for above-limit costs, including BGN 598,000 from past years and the rest from this year.
These financial results were achieved in spite of the fact that the hospital's intensive care sectors incurred over BGN 5 million in losses in the first half of this year, including BGN 2,593,000 reported in the intensive child care sector. This means that the intensive care of children and adults is sustained by the profit-making divisions, the director said.