Forty-seven-year-old Leicestershire English teacher Gareth Davies has died in Bangkok just days after his impassioned pleas to be transferred from a provincial Thailand hospital were answered, while British Ambassador to Thailand, Asif Ahmad, continues to defend the British Embassy in Bangkok’s lack of intervention.
Mr Davies was transferred to Bangkok’s Rajavithi Hospital late on Friday (March 23) afternoon, after days of intense lobbying by Thai and foreign citizens in Bangkok saw the English teacher’s employer, Kasem Bundit University, remit the contributions it had been deducting from his salary to Thailand’s Social Welfare Fund and settle his hospital bill at the HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Medical Centre, some 70km (43 miles) from the heart of Bangkok. (See: Get me out of here pleads Leicestershire English teacher)
However, when Mr Davies arrived at Rajavithi Hospital on Friday evening the hospital was reluctant to admit him as it was unable to confirm his Social Welfare Fund eligibility.
This set off a series of late-night telephone calls to Thai government employees, government ministers, and officials, with the matter only being resolved after Bangkok businesswoman, Patrachit Chotikapanich, stepped in and called on her extensive network of influential contacts and friends.
At the same time a furious Twitter exchange took place between the author and Mr Ahmad, on holiday in London, wherein the diplomat continued to defend the lack of face-to-face consular assistance provided to Mr Davies, saying it was not the responsibility of the British embassy to intervene in these matters.
Ambassador Asif Ahmad: “visits not the only way we help”
In one Tweet Mr Ahmad said, “visits not the only way we help 100s of Brits in hospital”, while in another he said, “we can’t ask for better healthcare than that provided by local hospitals. Sadly restraining patients is normal practice here”.
Mr Ahmad went on to claim, “personal care in government hospital and aftercare is largely left to patient’s family and friends in Thailand and not done by nurses” (a point disputed by Thai people), later claiming “media focus on case has had a positive influence on the employer. You stepped in an area UK government cannot intervene”.
When photo-journ’s newsblog visited the Leicestershire English teacher on Sunday afternoon, a Rajavithi Hospital a resident doctor who cannot be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said Mr Davies was in a “very critical condition” with his prognosis only being “fair”.
Terminal end point for Bangkok hospitals
“He’s obviously been sick for a long time, has been moved from hospital to hospital, and it appears his treatment to date has not been entirely appropriate. He’s severely malnourished and his immune system is equivalent to that of a six-month-old baby. The risk of infection is very high”.
Describing the ward Mr Davies was admitted to as the “terminal end point for Bangkok hospitals”, the doctor said Rajavithi Hospital’s department of medicine male ward was where other hospitals in Bangkok sent their most seriously ill and complicated cases when they were unable to provide appropriate medical care.
“We’re not unfamiliar with CREST Syndrome and tomorrow I will be consulting with the heart specialists and renal specialists regarding the treatment we will provide.
“He’s throat is very constricted which means he is not able to swallow food and I’ll also be consulting a surgeon to see if he is strong enough to have a tube inserted directly into his stomach to improve nutritional intake”, he said.
Before any of these steps could be implemented, however, the 47-year-old Leicestershire English teacher died from cardiac arrest at about 6.30am Monday (March 26) morning. The same doctor from the day prior said extensive attempts to revive Mr Davies were made, but hospital staff were unable to restart his heart.
Brits & Thai friends outraged over lack of embassy intervention
The death of Mr Davies and the lack of proactive intervention by the British Embassy Bangkok has caused outrage and anger amongst Mr Davies’ Thai and foreign friends. All are dismayed at the “the least we can do is the least we will do” approach taken by the British Embassy Bangkok.
Ms Chotikapanich said she is appalled at the way the Leicestershire English teacher has been treated by Kasem Bundit University and the British Embassy Bangkok.
“Gareth told me he had attempted to reach out to the British Embassy on several occasions, but despite him begging for help they never once visited him.
“Kasem Bundit University should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this situation to go on for so long and I intend to raise this formally with the Ministry of Education, the Office of Higher Education (Ohec), and the Prime Minister directly.
How is Thailand going to attract quality foreign teachers to help us improve our English language skills if employees are treated like this?
“What is the point of having a large embassy compound with hundreds of staff if they refuse to intervene on behalf of their citizens? Is this the service standard that British people expect?”, Ms Chotikapanich asked.
Footnote: Mr Michael Davies wishes to express his sincerest thanks to the numerous Thai people, many of whom did not know Gareth, for their tireless efforts in attempting to help him.
Photos John Le Fevre
- Get me out of here pleads Leicestershire English teacher
- Leicestershire English teacher abandoned by Kasem Bundit University, Bangkok
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me
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