Varuh človekovih pravic

The epidemic further exposed the problems of Slovenian healthcare

On the occasion of 38th Slovenian Week of the Fight Against Cancer, the Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina believes that the coronavirus pandemic has further exposed many of the problems in Slovenian healthcare, which so far have more or less successfully been kept under control in different areas. Slovenia has great, well-educated healthcare workers, but unfortunately not such a well-organised health system, ombudsman pointed.

"It is hard to imagine the systemic barriers a person with serious illness has to cope with. As if the diagnosis of a serious and unpredictable disease were not stressful enough for them, they have to face long queues, lack of doctors and unequal access to health services," said Ombudsman Peter Svetina at the solemn online session of the Association and regional societies against cancer.

Oncology patients and their relatives also turn for help to the Ombudsman. "We had a case of a cancer patient who received a message by mail that he lost his personal doctor due to the doctor’s retirement. This is a patient with serious illness who needs a doctor even more in such conditions for the purposes of monitoring the diagnosis, issuing prescriptions for medicines, referrals for examinations, etc. Our initiator tried to find a new doctor, but no new patients were admitted to his health centre. We turned to the Ministry of Health and suggested that they find temporary or bridging solutions as soon as possible, as such patients cannot wait for several years for the number of family doctors to match the relevant needs. We know that this problem cannot be solved in a short time. However, we are also aware that the problem or the circumstances of the shortage of family doctors did not happen overnight, but are the result of long-term 'neglect' in family medicine, "explains the Ombudsman.

The painful reality that patients with cancer and other serious illnesses are experiencing on a day-to-day basis requires comprehensive healthcare reform that will provide excellent, affordable, and safe disease prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation programmes. Above all, changes in the direction of ensuring accessible healthcare for all groups of the population are needed. And this is what the Ombudsman institution continues to watch over.