On 17 January 2023, the Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina participated at an emergency meeting of the Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities at which violations of legal rights and constitutionally guaranteed health care for citizens without a personal physician were discussed.
The Ombudsman again expressedhis indignation about the recent events witnessed in front of the Bežigrad Healthcare Centre and underlined that such state is a consequence of long-lasting noncompliance with the recommendations of the institution of the Ombudsman and other stakeholders. “Sadly, many problems have piled up in the field of health care that have been an open wound in our society for years. However, there are also truly many caring and compassionate people within health care institutions who have faith and trust in changes for the better. Despite everything that has been going on in our health care, they have not (yet) given up and do not deviate from the fundamental rules of medicine, ethics, and interpersonal solidarity. May they be a shining example to us all for reforms which are pressing,” the Ombudsman says with optimism.
Accessibility of doctors and quality treatment are key elements of health care; hence, upon the latest escalation in Ljubljana, the Ombudsman again acted in accordance with his competencies, as he has been actively doing since at least 2011. Based on Paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the Human Rights Ombudsman Act, he opened a wider question, within which he addresses in detail the issue of the lack of family medicine specialists at the Ljubljana Healthcare Centre. He believes that for individuals who cannot choose their personal physician the right to health care from Article 51 from the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia is violated; specifically, this is a violation of a patient’s right to free selection of a physician (Article 9 of the ZPacP) and consequently also a violation of a patient’s right to appropriate, quality, and safe health care treatment (Article 10 of the ZPacP). This has been emphasised not only during his mandate but also by his predecessors – from at least 2011 onwards.
The Ombudsman stresses that the right to health encompasses more than just the right to health care protection, just as health not only involves the physical aspect of an individual but also its psychosocial aspect. “Therefore, it is good to remember, including in the light of the current situation, that care for our own health does not only pertain to an individual but that his or her actions also pertain to and influence the health of the majority. This is also why I again appeal to all those responsible to stop passing responsibility from one to another and start cooperating constructively for the benefit of patients. The current state is yet another example of a grave and systematic violation of the rights of citizens which is inadmissible; therefore, as the Human Rights Ombudsman I expect answers and efficient solutions in favour of patients,” clearly states the Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina.