In the wake of the furore surrounding revelations of unqualified persons allegedly working as doctors on the strength of forged certificates, Marja-Liisa Partanen, Director-General of the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (VALVIRA), has gone on sick leave.
Earlier on Monday afternoon Partanen said that she would resign in order to calm the situation. She had reached the decision after discussing the matter with Minister of Social Services Maria Guzenina-Richardson (SDP).
“We held a long discussion with Marja-Liisa Partanen, and at the conclusion of the discussion she proposed as a solution that she would step down from the leadership of VALVIRA”, Guzenina-Richardson said.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health did not accept the resignation. The announcement came as a “complete surprise” to the ministry’s chief of staff Kari Välimäki, who said that there was no legal foundation for such a move.
“A director-general cannot just announce that she has stepped down from a post. We are the ones who are supposed to draw a conclusion and take action if we think that she may be accused or suspected of a crime.”
Vällimäki said that he understands if Partanen feels that she needs to go on sick leave, as she has been under great pressure over the fake doctor scandal.
Police investigating the matter are not saying if Partanen is one of the targets of the ongoing investigation. Police suspect a number of officials in different positions of malfeasance in the matter.
Police are investigating Valvira’s actions in two cases in which the authority granted doctor’s licences to men now suspected of falsifying their credentials. The investigations focus on whether or not the officials paid sufficient heed complaints against the two.
A team of three people appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to investigate the lapses in official supervision is starting its work on Wednesday.
Partanen’s announcement came as “a surprise, in a way” to the chairman of the group Jacob Söderman.
Kari Välimäki says that VALVIRA’s operations are not in jeopardy.
VALVIRA’s communications chief Tarja Tamminen told Helsingin Sanomat on Monday afternoon that Partanen was not commenting on the matter.