Prime minister: Health Board cold store incident 'an unbelievable mess'

The Health Board's cold storage unit.
The Health Board's cold storage unit. Source: Terviseamet

The Health Board's cold storage incident is "an unbelievable mess" and the government has decided to investigate the possibilities of filing claims for damages, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on Thursday.

Kallas was speaking about the findings of the inquiry into a temperature rise at the Health Board's cold store in June which resulted in more than €3 million worth of medicines, including COVID-19 vaccines, being destroyed. 

She said the prosecutor's office is investigating whether there is reason to initiate criminal proceedings on the basis of either the intentional negligence or criminal negligence section. The Ministry of Finance must also analyze whether, to whom and to what extent a claim for damages can be made.

Thirdly, the Health Board must review legislation on the handling of vaccines and medicines, and the Ministry of Social Affairs must ensure quality control to prevent such things in the future. State real estate manager RKAS must assess the capacity of RKAS to ensure the management and establishment of such special projects. The Ministry of Social Affairs must also assess whether the requirements set for those handling medicines are sufficient.

Kallas said it must be assessed whether the storage of vaccines and medicines should be handled by the state alone or together with the private sector.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said the incident could not be blamed on hot weather.

"Such a thing cannot be an excuse," Kiik said, adding that the culprits are wrong equipment, an incompetently thought-out spatial solution and non-functioning notification systems.

"The situation is embarrassing and saddening," Kiik said.

At the same time, he said that the chain of those responsible is long. "It would not be entirely right for current leaders to have to take responsibility for what happened in 2014-2017," he said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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