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Info requests from audit boss to health chief fall on deaf ears

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides

The health ministry’s medical services director Petros Matsas has failed to cooperate with the Audit Service over reports of graft among doctors and other healthcare practitioners at state hospitals, who allegedly collaborate with private interests, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has told health minister Giorgos Pamboridis.

In a letter dated January 27, Michaelides said a probe dating back four months has effectively been frozen due to Matsas’ failure to procure the information requested, despite having received two reminders.

The probe was triggered by reports Michaelides got from the Greens’ leader Giorgos Perdikis, who named doctors allegedly working with a private company that imports hearing aids.

According to Michaelides, health ministry permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki has also asked Matsas to produce the requested info, to no avail.

“The claims you referred to in your letter were also passed to our service in October 2015,” Michaelides informed Perdikis.

“In the course of investigations, on October 9 we asked the health ministry’s permanent secretary to send us a detailed report of state-sponsored hearing aids approved during the period from 2013 to 2015, as well as the names of the doctors who approved them.

In a hand-written note dated October 12, she instructed the director of Medical Services to forward this information to us within 15 days. Unfortunately, to date, and despite two reminder letters we have sent, we have not received this information, resulting in our inability to conclude investigation.”

It is noted, the auditor-general added, that this is not the first time Matsas has stalled in responding to requests made by Yiannaki on the Audit Service’s behalf.

Investigation of a second case, Michaelides informed Perdikis, relating to assistant coroners at state hospitals who are said to have been collaborating with private funeral homes, is also being obstructed by Matsas.

In this case, too, Yiannaki was asked to furnish the Audit Service with information, a request she passed on to Matsas, on November 20.

Almost a month later, Matsas replied, but Yiannaki thought the response was incomplete, and asked him to give more information, which he has yet to do.

Michaelides told Perdikis that his letter was copied to the Health minister, in hopes that he might tend to the issue of Matsas’ apparent insubordination.

According to daily Phileleftheros, which carried the story on Wednesday, Matsas withheld comment as he was not aware of Michaelides’ letter.

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