By Yoshitha Perera
Thirty-nine nurses attached to Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital (NFTH) have been listed on the payroll of Castle Street Hospital on a request made by the Health Ministry, it was revealed yesterday at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) to investigate corruption of the current administration.
During the testimony, Castle Street Hospital Admin Officer Thushara Bandara said the aforementioned 39 nurses had never worked at Castle Street Hospital but that it paid their salaries based on a request made by the Health Ministry last year.
It was earlier revealed that the salaries of the 39 nurses were paid by Castle Street Hospital and that between August 2017 and February 2019, the government had paid Rs. 21 million to these nurses who had been seconded from Castle Street Hospital.
According to the documents, he said these nurses had been appointed to NFTH in December 2017 and that NFTH paid their salaries for six months subsequent to the appointment.
“NFTH had paid their salaries for six months until June 2018. The Health Ministry had reimbursed this sum to NFTH. After June 2018, the ministry had requested us to pay their salaries and we are paying them accordingly. All these nurses had completed their studies in government nursing schools. It is clear that the Health Ministry had made some illegal appointments by sending them to NFTH temporarily.
Showing letters sent by former Commissioner-General of the Inland Revenue Department J.P.D.R. Jayasekara, the witness said there was a difficulty in counting these nurses’ service days and creating their pensions.
The witness also said some nurses attached to NFTH had requested for transfers from the Health Ministry and that the ministry asked Castle Street Hospital whether it could pay the salaries of these employees after getting the transfer to another hospital.
In response, the Director of Castle Street Hospital sent a letter to the ministry stating the hospital could not pay these nurses’ salaries when considering the financial situation of the hospital.