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CITIZENS POORLY INFORMED ON THEIR RIGHTS

13.03.2018

Almost half of citizens (49%) in Serbia don’t know who to address in cases of patients’ rights violation. Furthermore, more than half admits to be poorly informed about patients' rights.

The results of the focus groups held in Niš and Belgrade show that citizens feel that they are not timely informed on newly introduced changes within health care system. For example, replacement procedure of new health insurance cards has created many difficulties due to lack of information about the deadlines. Furthermore, almost 60% of citizens haven’t heard about the possibilities get private healthcare services and refund their costs in cases when public institution cannot provide services within 30 days.

Inputs collected directly from citizens regarding satisfaction with primarily health care indicate that they need additional information about their rights and that they would like to be informed primarily through the media and by health institutions. Furthermore, research has shown that there is the need for stronger cooperation between the Ministry of Health, media and civil society organizations, in order to inform citizens, take more proactive attitude and adapt to the needs of different categories of citizens.

It is particularly important to promote the role of Advisor for Protection of Patients' Rights and to strengthen its function as the mechanism for the protection of citizens' rights. According to the Law on Patients' Rights, the units of local self-government (municipalities and cities) have the authority to organize and ensure patients' rights protection by appointing a lawyer i.e. Advisor for protection of patients' rights and by establishing the Health Council. The Patient Rights’ Advisor has dual role: to acts upon the patient's complaints and to provide the necessary advice and information about their rights. For example, citizens of Belgrade can contact their Advisor in the Patients Protection Office located in Tiršova Street no. 1.

Nevertheless, citizens can complain to the Ombudsman For Rights of Insured Persons as well, whose work is regulated by the Rulebook on the Manner and Procedure for the Protection of the Rights of Insured Persons of the Republic Health Insurance Fund. The Ombudsman has the task of providing information regarding their protection of insured patients, to provide expert and technical assistance in connection with substantiation of rights from health insurance, inform the competent organizational unit of the Republic Fund about irregularities within performance of contractual obligations of the health service provider, keep data on the number and type of violation of the rights of insured persons, as well as to prepare and submit reports on the work.

In addition, the Ministry should work more visibly on the newly established Commission for the Fight against Corruption in Health Care, as well as in making its work and performances available to the public, in order to increase the confidence of citizens in health institutions.

A survey on citizens' satisfaction with primary health care services was carried out within the project "Partnership for Good Governance" implemented by the European Policy Centre and the European Movement in Serbia in cooperation with 12 local partners.

Complete report (in Serbian) can be found here.


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