President appoints new health minister

Paweł Supernak/PAP

Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, has appointed Katarzyna Sojka, a physician and a Law and Justice (PiS) MP, the new health minister.

Handing over the appointment to Sojka, Duda said he was "glad that the Minister of Health's portfolio has been given to a young person with experience who understands the challenges of a modern health care system and what it needs from the point of view of a citizen - an ordinary patient seeking advice from an ordinary doctor." 

"I believe that the minister will cope with her duties," he added.

Earlier on Thursday, the president recalled Adam Niedzielski, who had held the post from August 2020.

Niedzielski's dismissal followed his clash with a Polish doctor who had demanded that the minister apologise and make a donation to a hospice charity for publishing his personal details along with what he claims are defamatory statements about him on social media.

Niedzielski's resignation was accepted by the prime minister on Tuesday. "The time of an election campaign is a period during which we have to be extremely cautious about any mistake or any word, even when lies and manipulations of the opposite side are being revealed," Mateusz Morawiecki said in a statement.

"But a mistake was made when this lie was being revealed," Morawiecki went on to say, adding that he had decided to dismiss the minister as the point was now to focus not on his error but on what was most important, namely the good of the patient.

On Thursday, private broadcaster TVN screened footage about patients in the city of Poznan being unable to receive pain killers due to new prescription regulations which came into force on August 2.

The doctor commenting on the situation, Piotr Pisula, said he was unable to prescribe the necessary medication. Minister Niedzielski later published Pisula's personal data on X (formerly Twitter) along with claims that he had prescribed the restricted medication in his own name.

Pisula issued a legal notice on Monday demanding an apology and the sum of PLN 100,000 (EUR 22,580) to be paid by Niedzielski to a Poznan hospice.

Later on Monday, Wojciech Andrusiewicz, a health ministry spokesman, said a check of the electronic prescription system had shown that Pisula had never tried to prescribe the drugs to patients.

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