Health Minister quits over stalled reforms

Take note – story published 9 years ago

Health Minister Ingrida Circene announced her resignation Monday, ending weeks of speculation that she was considering just such a move.

Citing her own health problems, which have kept her away from cabinet meetings in recent weeks, plus disillusionment with the pace of reform in the sector, Circene said in a statement on the ministry's website that she had handed her resignation to Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma.

"I believe that... to improve public health there is a need for fundamental reforms, but the funding that is now allocated to the health sector in Latvia is not sufficient,” Circene said.

Circene added that her desire to reform the financing of healthcare had not made the progress she desired and that conditions and pay for Latvia's “world class” medical professionals were “seriously defective”.

"I cannot accept that while working for this government the Ministry of Health has not received support for a stable long-term funding increase in a healthy society and other key strategic issues,” she said.

"Taking into account the differences in the understanding of the healthcare industry and the major fact that constructive cooperation has not been achieved on the most urgent tasks, as well as the fact that I personally can not immediately resume work due to health reasons, I believe that I cannot continue to work as part of this team. Therefore... I am resigning as Health Minister," Circene concluded.

The resignation creates a headache for Straujuma in that it means she has not been able to hold her cabinet together even for the 9-month period it had to last before the next scheduled elections in October.

Circene's stinging criticism of the slow pace of reform and the intransigence of her colleagues is also likely to be widely quoted in the pre-election period.

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