site.btaUPDATED Director of Sofia's Pirogov Emergency Hospital Is Removed
The Director of Sofia's Pirogov emergency hospital, Valentin Dimitrov, has been dismissed, the Health Ministry told BTA on Tuesday. The Ministry announced later that Konstantin Dimov has been appointed Director until a new competition is held.
According to the Ministry press release, Dimitrov was dismissed due to irregularities found in an audit by the Health Ministry inspectorate. The audit established violations, including of non-compliance with the Public Procurement Act. The internal audit report was submitted to the Sofia City Prosecution Office and to Finance Minister Assen Vassilev asking him to order a financial inspection by the Public Finance Inspection Agency (PFIA). The prosecution service has opened a case file and a letter was received by the Health Ministry from the PFIA providing information that a financial inspection of the hospital will be commissioned.
Another reason for Dimitrov's dismissal was the public tension created after competitions for heads of the hospital wards took place, the Health Ministry also said.
Dimitrov's dismissal caused a flare-up of tensions between GERB-UDF and Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria - the two coalitions that stand behind the current government, with GERB threatening to boycott the government of Nikolay Denkov.
In a subsequent development, Sofia City Court temporarily halted the registration of Konstantin Dimov as Pirogov Director. The court said it would wait until a decision is made on whether Dimitrov’s appeal of his dismissal, is well-grounded.
On November 28, ahead of a meeting of the parliamentary health committee, Health Minister Hristo Hinkov told the press that 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. He said that prosecutors are expected to investigate the matter.
Established in 1951, Pirogov is one of the country's largest hospitals and a leader in the field of emergency medical services.
Reactions following the dismissal
National Assembly Deputy Chairperson Nikola Minchev of Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria: I do not think that a personnel decision within the competence of the Heath Minister should affect the work of the National Assembly in such a way. Minchev's comment came as a response to GERB-UDF's threat to boycott the government bills in Parliament.
Parliamentary Health Committee Head Kostadin Angelov: The Pirogov hospital is in profit, the director is being replaced, because some time ago he spoke out a case involving a councillor – Mustafa Emin. This underlies the replacement of the director and there are many reasons why we should not allow political pressure [be used] to replace one person or another. Pirogov’s Director [Valentin Dimitrov] is doing his job, the hospital is profitable, and they are trying to invent a new scandal – a one, concerning hospital competitions, which does not exist. There is only one question - who is the prime minister of Bulgaria, obviously not Denkov. Apparently, it is the Health Minister, Prof. Hinkov, who makes decisions that Prime Minister Denkov says will not be made. Hinkov is not a GERB-UDF nominee. Whoever nominated Hinkov as minister is responsible for that minister, he should decide what to do with him.
Movement for Rights and Freedoms floor leader Delyan Peevski: We declare our full support for Pirogov. We call on the parties and the heads of cabinets to restrain themselves from interfering in the health sector and firing and hiring in hospitals to serve their own interests.