No virus, no treatment, patients with other medical issues complain

Hospitals and outpatient departments defend themselves, saying they follow hygienic instructions.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME archive)

They have not been infected with the coronavirus and their life is not currently in danger. However, they still need medical treatment.

Some patients had examinations schedules but it was cancelled or insufficiently made. Many of them suffer from chronic diseases and need regular treatment or were supposed to undergo surgery that has not been performed yet. So they are waiting for a new date, often in great pain.

The number of patients complaining on the worsened availability of health care has increased in the past month, since the national emergency was declared in Slovak hospitals due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The worsened availability has also been confirmed by three-quarters of respondents who took part in the survey carried out by the Association for the Protection of Patients’ Rights (AOPP). It is not a representative poll though.

A national emergency was declared by the Peter Pellegrini (Smer) government on March 16. The Health Ministry enabled hospitals to restore planned surgeries a month later. During this time, the number of patientssurgeries in some hospitals dropped by as much as 60 percent.

Related articleInside a hospital red zone: How health workers fight COVID-19 in Slovakia Read more 

The facilities, criticised by non-governmental organisations for worsened health care availability, refer to the measures issued by chief hygienist Ján Mikas. He responds, however, that he had not issued any direction limiting medical treatment.

Number of deaths may go up

People have also turned with their complaints about worsened health care availability during the national emergency to the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights (SNSĽP). Its specialist Beáta Babačová says that hundreds of patients suffering from chronic diseases, like diabetes, asthma and heart diseases, have been affected.

In addition, patients with worsened health conditions, including those waiting for a new hip joint, have been put aside as well, she said, adding her own experience.

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