As a result of an unscheduled inspection of the commission of the Ministry of Health of Russia, the work of the Research Institute of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology (part of the Blokhin National Medical Research Center for Oncology) revealed "very serious violations that need to be eradicated as soon as possible." This was announced at a press conference in TASS by the head of the commission, director of the department of medical care for children and obstetric care of the Ministry of Health of Russia Elena Baybarina.

Until mid-2019, children in the research institute were treated according to innovative, but ineffective protocols, said a member of the commission, the main freelance hematologist of the Ministry of Health, Alexander Rumyantsev. “In addition, there were no electronic case records. There were not even destination sheets in an open, controlled manner, ”he added.

The commission was created after eight employees of the research institute sent a letter to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. They complained about the new leader, Svetlana Varfolomeeva, who was appointed director of the institution in June 2019. Doctors claimed that Varfolomeyeva allegedly makes unreasonable demands, reduces salaries, creates an “atmosphere of fear”, destroying “established medical practice of a high level."

In their appeal, doctors demanded that the head of the research institute be removed. According to them, otherwise 26 employees will write a letter of resignation. In fact, eight letters of resignation were written (from seven doctors and one nurse), of which four were satisfied, and the rest are still being considered.

In the Ministry of Health, this appeal of medical workers was called a "gross violation of medical ethics."

According to Baibarina, only five of the Institute’s 52 medical personnel interviewed by the commission spoke about the “atmosphere of fear” and pressure created by the new leadership. These people recorded the appeal to Putin. “They talked more about their human misunderstanding and unwillingness to work with Varfolomeeva, but no examples were given to us,” the head of the commission noted. The remaining employees of the research institute, according to Baybarina, said that Varfolomeeva is demanding, but does not violate ethical standards when communicating with subordinates, and her requirements are fair and aimed at the interests of patients.

One of the authors of the appeal, oncologist Natalya Subbotina, stated that “payroll for employees has turned into a closed and unfair process and has become a tool for squeezing out objectionable people.”

The Ministry of Health explained that Subbotin was transferred from one and a half rates to one “for violation of labor discipline before the new director came to the Institute of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology”.

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The cuts in salaries, which the oncologist spoke about, were one-time and related to bringing all the accounting departments into balance. “This period occurred in July-August, when employees massively went on vacation. Salary fund could not stand it. But now everyone gets paid on time and in full, ”said Polad Karimov, a children's oncologist.

Information about the low salary that the oncology center medical staff supposedly received was not confirmed, members of the commission found out. One of the nurses stated that she was paid per month from 2 to 5 thousand rubles. In the oncology center, these data were refuted, emphasizing that the employee “reduces her salary tenfold”.

Moreover, the salaries of employees of the NIC and the Research Institute of Pediatric Oncology are growing, Baibarina said. According to her, if in 2018 the doctors of the children's center received 134 thousand rubles a month, then this year the average salary was 179 thousand rubles. For nurses over the same period, salaries increased from 76 thousand to 87 thousand rubles.

Doctors also complained that there was no ventilation in the building of the research institute, the walls were covered with mold, and the chambers were full. The head of the Ministry of Health’s commission said to this that part of the premises where problems with sanitary and epidemiological welfare were identified were closed for repairs, but the participants did not find any absolutely disastrous conditions.

Among the claims made by the authors of the appeal to the new authorities, there was an increase in the burden on employees. Doctors complained that after Varfolomeeva’s arrival they were obliged to attend all discussions two to three times a day. Doctors also added paperwork, which made them less likely to deal with children, shifting some of their responsibilities to nurses.

“Doctors began to say that if they do not fulfill all the new requirements, they can quit,” Irina Gordeeva, president of the regional public organization of disabled people “Creative Partnership”, told RT.

However, colleagues of oncologists emphasized that both improving the workflow process and holding meetings is not a whim of the new leadership, but the requirements that are being fulfilled throughout the civilized world. “Such events are always difficult because people have to adapt,” said RT, who works at the center. Blokhin children's oncologist Denis Shevtsov. “It is clear that this causes concern among the old team, but the question of why this is so acute has remained open.”

The requirements of the new leadership were justified, no reasons for dismissing Varfolomeeva were found, and the director of the NMIC was recommended to support her activities, members of the Ministry of Health commission added.

Advisor to the Director of the Research Institute of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology NN Blokhina Vladimir Polyakov believes that the current situation is caused by “rejection of a new person who came with his ideas” without trying to come to an agreement with him.

As a source familiar with the situation told RT, the real cause of the conflict could be corruption in the cancer center that existed before the new leadership arrived. “At the same time, Varfolomeev can be blamed for many things, but requisitions at the Center to them. Dmitry Rogachev, when she led him, has never been, ”RT said. An inspection by the Ministry of Health did not reveal cases of corruption.