Veryga and Kukuraitis explain themselves to the president: their fate is on the line

Saulius Skvernelis, Aurelijus Veryga, Ramūnas Karbauskis
Saulius Skvernelis, Aurelijus Veryga, Ramūnas Karbauskis DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

President Gitanas Nausėda has met with several ministers that have been delegated by the “Farmers”. One of the first to be called up was Minister of Healthcare Aurelijus Veryga. He is one of the numbers of ministers for whom Nausėda said he had numerous questions. On July 1, G. Nausėda met with the Minister of Social Security and Healthcare Linas Kukuraitis. However, after long talks with both ministers, no decisions have been announced regarding either one’s future as of yet, Eglė Šepetytė wrote in tv3.lt

Earlier, G. Nausėda described L. Kukuraitis as the minister raising most doubts, thus will the minister remain in the cabinet? And what will A. Veryga’s fate be?

Aurelijus Veryga is the first of the current cabinet’s ministers, with whom Gitanas Nausėda wished to meet upon taking office. Their conversation lasted more than an hour.

After the meeting, the president’s team commented that more quality is expected. “There are definitely venues for improvement in regard to quality. I must pre-emptively say that the goal of this meeting was not to decide on approving or not approving the minister’s continued work in his position,” advisor Simonas Krėpšta stated.

The question about A. Veryga’s fate in Saulius Skvernelis’ cabinet arose when G. Nausėda expressed a wish to have the minister of healthcare replaced. The president has also repeated a number of times that he has numerous questions for him.

“I definitely cannot answer for the president, whether he will or will not agree, I cannot make guesses or predictions,” the minister said.

A. Veryga explained he did not hear any criticism from G. Nausėda, stating, “I would not view it as criticism, rather as a desire to find out, what the situation actually is, to receive answers. I received various questions, both regarding pharmaceuticals and regarding the healthcare service network, but I did not feel that it would be criticism, just earnest interest.”

“The main goal was to become acquainted with the situation and to highlight the main challenges. They are linked to improving service quality and ensuring that services would be of a high standard not only in central hospitals but everywhere, where patients receive these services,” S. Krėpšta stated.

According to the advisor, G. Nausėda also discussed compensated medicines reform progress and the reform of the hospitals network with A. Veryga. In public, the minister has been most criticised regarding the increased restrictions on alcohol sales, however, he himself assures that the results are already visible, for example, the country has witnessed fewer alcoholic psychoses already.

“And I had the chance to present the numbers to the president, explain why certain changes were implemented, what came of it and what results we obtained,” A. Veryga said.

The minister is firmly backed by Ramūnas Karbauskis and Saulius Skvernelis. R. Karbauskis has even said that A. Veryga is one of the best ministers in this cabinet. The prime minister has stated that he wishes to see A. Veryga continue working in his office: “I believe that the minister should definitely continue working. He has raised a vast number of questions and areas which used to be untouchable, taboo. Pharmacy issues, pharmacies and such.”

Both S. Skvernelis and the minister himself admit that the still incomplete hospital reform stands as an unsuccessful work. The reform, one of the main points of which was the merger of regional hospitals, was vetoed by the former president a year ago and the minister himself yielded a month ago – the reform will not come to be.

“There were efforts, projects were prepared, but unfortunately we could not convince members of Seimas. However, we are seeking alternatives,” S. Skvernelis spoke.

“I am not shirking any responsibility, I can take it up at any point and be the one, who takes responsibility and does the work, but you must understand that these matters do not rest on solely the minister,” A. Veryga spoke.

By the way, prior to the meeting between the president and A. Veryga, a public letter was released by representatives of patient organisations, requesting to replace the minister of healthcare. The letter states that the minister makes decisions without considering remarks from the public, however, Veryga retorts that these are just individual opinions.

On Thursday, following his meeting with L. Kukuraitis, the president stated that he finds the minister’s leadership lacking in reducing poverty in the country, protecting the interests of retirees, the disabled and families with children.

How much hope L. Kukuraitis has to remain in the renewed cabinet is no longer clear. According to the president’s advisor, G. Nausėda met with L. Kukuraitis on Thursday for different reasons. The president demanded from the minister explanations of how he will save Lithuanians mired in poverty and directed to actively seek funding for social security.

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