A months-old dispute between the acting director of a Pailin municipal hospital and members of his staff may now lead to the removal of one of the hospital’s surgeons, officials said Tuesday.
An inspector from the Ministry of Health visited the Pailin Municipal Referral Hospital Tuesday to investigate the dispute before a final decision is made on whether to fire surgeon Khe Sokhom.
In July, staff at the hospital sought the resignation of acting director Seak Rattanak, accusing him of pocketing hospital funds and failing to seek badly needed financial assistance to improve services.
The staffers, led by Khe Sokhom, appealed to Health Minister Nuth Sokhom for a resolution to the dispute and for sanctions against Seak Rattanak. At that time, Nuth Sokhom recommended that the dispute be handled at the local level.
Last month, Pailin Municipal Governor Y Chhean approved an Aug 9 letter from the Pailin Health Office requesting the removal of Khe Sokhom, officials confirmed.
Nuth Sokhom said that he had seen the removal request but needed more time to review the matter. “In principle, we still want to resolve the dispute peacefully, and get all parties of the dispute to continue working in a difficult place like Pailin,” he said.
Khe Sokhom said that if he is removed it would be a great injustice. “I only protested irregularities for the good [of the hospital],” he said, adding that 27 staff members, about half the hospital’s employees, have condemned any plans to remove him.
In July, Seak Rattanak denied the allegations made by his staff, and accused Khe Sokhom of acting unprofessionally. Seak Rattanak said Tuesday that it was necessary to transfer Khe Sokhom from Pailin because the dispute was impeding health services.
Y Chhean could not be reached for comment. Deputy Governor Ieng Vuth confirmed the governor’s endorsement of the surgeon’s removal but refused to elaborate further.