The Neukölln medical officer Nicolai Savaskan has been relieved of his duties, and he is not allowed to enter the health department he has been in charge of for the time being. The Neukölln district office does not comment on “individual personnel matters”, as the deputy district mayor Jochen Biedermann (Greens) said on request.
An employee of the house confirmed to the Tagesspiegel that disciplinary proceedings were instituted against Savaskan. The allegations are therefore “serious”, a house ban is imposed extremely rarely.
Not only Savaskan, but also other medical officers in the city repeatedly had arguments with politicians during the pandemic. Most of the criticism, however, concerned corona measures by the Senate. In Neukölln, however, it was known that there had been violent differences of opinion between Savaskan and the city councilor for health, Mirjam Blumenthal (SPD), who was only elected in 2021.
According to unconfirmed information from the house, the trigger for Savaskan’s “silence” was that the doctor had called for more staff for the district’s pandemic team and “got the wrong tone” when dealing with employees. In an internal email dated July 29 to all health department employees, it was said that Savaskan had been relieved of his duties.
Savaskan has regularly spoken publicly on corona issues, particularly as a member of the Association of Public Health Physicians. Last week it was said in state politics that City Councilor Blumenthal had instructed her medical officer to refrain from public statements. Savaskan did not respond to a request via text message Sunday night.
A few days ago, the Tagesspiegel learned about an internal round of state secretaries on the Corona autumn of 2022, which also dealt with the role of public health officers. Education State Secretary Aziz Bozkurt (SPD) suggested in the round with a view to the measures to be explained that attention should be paid to “uniform communication by the authorities”. In previous corona waves, the “unauthorized communication” of individual medical officers in particular was “not helpful”.
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In Senate circles, there was talk above all of Reinickendorf’s medical officer Patrick Larscheid, who had criticized the school and daycare closures during the pandemic as social-psychologically risky. At the beginning of the year, Larscheid resigned from the hygiene advisory board of the educational administration together with the head of the professional association of paediatricians.
When asked, Larscheid said he was surprised that there was apparently still a feeling of insult in the Senate. However, he supports the obligation to wear masks, as demanded by the state secretaries. A Senate spokeswoman said only that they are working on getting Berlin safely through autumn and winter.
Every municipality, in Berlin this corresponds to the twelve districts, roughly put, has a public health officer. The doctors run the local health department. They work independently, but are subject to supervision by the political leadership in the district.