The Observatory of the Federation of Patients’ Associations Organizations of Cyprus (Osak) has received 421 complaints for the January-September 2022 period, most of which (43.5%) refer to a lack of access to medicines and treatments.
Some of the most common complaints that Osak has received concern the lack of certain medicines as well as the fact that some medicines for serious illnesses are not included in the General Health System (Gesy).
For example, Osak received the following complaint:
“This is the ninth day without my pills, APULATAMITE, for prostate cancer which has metastasised to my bones. I am concerned, anxious, and scared about the future when there will be a relapse and deterioration of my condition. Bureaucracy has won once again, despite the ongoing efforts of the staff at the Limassol German Oncology Center. I and other patients in my position live in despair that only you as Osak can understand. I believe that only you have the power to beat this beast of bureaucracy so that all patients will have ‘unobstructed access to the most effective and safest medicine,’ as mentioned in Osaks’s leaflet. For this reason, I apply to you personally, requesting your help so that my medicines will be sent to me.”
Some statistical data:
- Some 52% of the complaints were submitted by men and 48% by women.
The subject matter of the complaints:
- Medicines and treatments 43.5%
- Expenses 14%
- Access to health services 13%
- Quality of health services 13%
- Behaviour/service of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals 10%
- Medical negligence 6%
- Waiting lists 0.5%
Complaints referred to the following providers:
- Hospitals/medical centres 35%
- Health Insurance Organization (HIO) 33.5%
- Other 11.6%
- Doctor 10%
- Health Ministry 4%
- Other health professionals 3.3%
- Pharmacy 1.6%
- Radiology centres 0.5%
The age group of complainants:
- 50-70 years old (43%)
- More than 71 years old (34%)
- 31-50 years old (19%)
- 18-30 years old (4%)
Complaints are filed both by the patients themselves and by their relatives. Doctors and other health professionals also refer to the Osak Observatory.
Upon receiving a complaint, Osak begins the process to resolve it. In cases when the complaint refers to possible medical negligence, citizens are advised to refer to a lawyer or to the police. These cases are not many, but at least once a month the Observatory receives one such case, it said, without this meaning that all cases are valid.
Regarding the other complaints, the Osak members try to help citizens either by contacting the relevant services or by sending the complaint to each time competent authority. The Observatory is monitoring the course of the complaints’ examination and intervenes in case of a delay.
Other interesting data:
-Regarding the problem of access to services, complainants usually refer to the long time needed to wait for an appointment with a Gesy doctor (the problem mainly refers to the private sector) and the time of waiting at the ER.
-Many chronically ill patients refer to the processes State Health Services Organization (Okypy) still implements with registrations and the long time needed in queues to receive health services.
-There are also recorded complaints about the behaviour of doctors and other health professionals both in the public and the private sectors.
-Recently the complaints that Osak receives from doctors and mainly from personal physicians have also increased. The doctors refer to pressure by patients to issue referrals for medical specialists or exams. Doctors also complain about the limits the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) has set for the number of referrals they can issue every month.
-On the other hand, complaints are also received by patients claiming that doctors cite the HIO limits and do not issue referrals for medical specialists or other examinations.
-Among the striking complaints Osak received is the fact that health professionals do not complete all clinical notes in the Gesy software. Often, when citizens undergo certain tests and then visit a doctor of a different speciality, they ascertain that their previous doctor had not recorded all necessary information on their file and as a result, the patient has to repeat the tests. Osak stresses that all doctors and other professionals are obliged to update their patient’s files so that there is timely and full information about each other.
How to file a complaint:
Osak has established an electronic platform for the submission of complaints by patients or other people. The platform is in operation and can be used through the website of Osak (www.cypatient.org).
Patients who wish to submit their complaints can do so
-through the free telephone line 1403
-by email ([email protected]) as a text, by attaching a letter, or the relevant form from Osak offices
-through the platform of the Observatory of Patient Rights by completing a complaint form online
-by fax (22386003)
-through messages to Osak’s social media (Facebook)