Panel probes treatment of Nation photographer by parliament medics
MPs yesterday complained about medical services at Parliament House, as the House Affairs Committee probed the treatment of a Nation photographer who collapsed outside the Parliament last Thursday.
Chief opposition whip Jurin Laksanawisit told Pheu Thai MP Paijit Sriworakhan, "We feel like beggars when contacting the first-aid room for medicines."
The committee scheduled a hearing next week to receive testimony from medics who were on duty at Parliament when Sakol Sandhiratne, a Nation Multimedia Group photographer, collapsed. Witnesses said medics refused to allow an ambulance stationed at Parliament to take Sakol to hospital on grounds that it was for MPs' use only.
The committee summoned relevant authorities to provide an explanation, including House secretary-general Suwijak Nakwacharachai; budget office Sunthorn Rakmuang director; Phramongkutklao Hospital director Chumpol Piamsomboon; Chalad Chandaj, the director of the Media Photographer Association; and Swat Panyod, a member of the association's committee.
The hospital director said that in principle, the medics have a mandate to decide whether to send patients to hospital if they are considered serious cases. Chumpol denied that medical personnel had refused to send the photographer to hospital on the orders of powerful people, or because they were worried that they would be reprimanded if a parliamentarian were to suddenly need an ambulance.
"Medical staff delayed in getting the photographer to hospital because they wanted to make an evaluation [of his condition]. Meanwhile, staff called the hospital to send an ambulance to pick Sakol up," Chumpol said.
However, Chalad and Swat said they witnessed medical staff saying they could not use an ambulance that was on standby to take Sakol to hospital because they feared powerful people would blame them. At that time, Sakol said many times that he could not take it any more but the staffs not sent he to hospital.Suwijak said the Parliament tasked the welfare subcommittee with preventing the problem from recurring. Tomorrow the subcommittee would meet to discuss compensation for Sakol, Suwijak said.
The committee later discussed the budget for Parliament's clinic, agreeing to pay doctors Bt500 per hour, nurses Bt200 an hour and paramedics Bt100 an hour.
Deputy chief of the committee Preecha Musikul, a member of the Parliament's first-aid committee, said the clinic had a budget of Bt8 million-Bt13 million for life-saving equipment provided in the medical room. In emergency cases, anyone - not only MPs and senators - can be treated using the first-aid room, Preecha said.