New health minister would have work to do: PM

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Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma denied Wednesday that with just weeks to go until parliamentary elections, any new appointee to the position of Health Minister would be a lame duck.

Speaking on LNT's morning news programme, Straujuma said: “We have nearly three months until the elections. I hope Unity [political party] will do well and that person could continue to work after the election as well.”

Straujuma refused to name her choice to join the five-month-old cabinet or venture an opinion on Riga Stradins University official Toms Baumanis, who is being widely tipped for the post in the media.

“Today I don't want to talk about candidates,” Straujuma said, adding that whoever got the job would need to draw up health sector spending plans.

The Prime Minister's words contrasted with those of Ingrida Circene, who resigned the post on July 7 citing a mixture of disillusionment with government support for healthcare reform and her own ill health.

Speaking to Latvian Radio Wednesday, Circene said: “No new health minister will be able to do anything in two and a half months... it takes at least two to three months to familiarise yourself with the work, examine the existing strategies and listen to the responsible and knowledgeable officials.”

Circene did not reveal her future plans, saying she was concentrating on restoring her own health before making a decision.

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