The report for corruption in Sanatorium, where patients admit to provide money unofficially in order to receive health services. Health is a sector that has collected more complaints in the governmental portal for denouncing corruption. During the past two years in the Court of Tirana has not been presented any request for judgment of arrested doctors or suspected for corruption
Citizens see Health as one of the most corrupted sectors in which to get a certain medical service they should give money under the table. Insured or not, people often draw money out of their pocket beyond state tariffs of payments for medical services. Usually in different hospitals of the country while you encounter and learn the patients histories it is highlighted the fact that most of them give a bribe to get a better medical service from the white shirts. Others say give money as a reward for the service provided. A survey conducted by the Centre of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Health (QSHRT) in partnership with the Regional Centre Foundation “New Media Eye” (SMR, Gjirokastra) and the Journalists’ Association for Justice (SHGD) sheds more light on this phenomenon to which complaints from patients have no end.
During a survey on corruption in health, Respiratory Health Center and Tuberculosis conducted the interview with 50 patients, their relatives and members of the community in the premises of the University Hospital “Shefqet Ndroqi” Tirana, otherwise known as Sanatorium. To the specific question if you had to pay a bribe to obtain medical services, 38% of respondents answered positively and 62% negatively. Of people who responded positively to the question whether they have had to pay under the table for health care, just in one case the money was requested by the staff of the hospital, in three cases it was confirmed they had paid money with the idea that they would receive a more qualitative service and in 9 other case the payments were justified by the satisfaction of quality service acquired in the hospital, as a result the payment was made after receiving the service.
Survey to identify the causes that lead to corruption in health was performed at the beginning of the current year and a total of 200 questionnaires were completed. The project sponsored by the Program for strengthening the justice system in Albania (JuST) of USAID comes as a necessity driven by the need for fairness and quality in the delivery of services in the public health sector in the district of Gjirokaster and Tiranë. Thid survey helped patients to speak fearlessly about corruption and its harmful effects, denouncing concrete cases of corruption. At the conclusion of the survey the report was compiled on the findings identified by the 200 surveys conducted, which will include specific recommendations for the sector. Details of the report will be discussed by specialists of Gjirokastra Public Health and the medical and administrative staff of the University Hospital “Shefqet Ndroqi” in Tirana, to make necessary changes in this sector.
Hundreds of health complaints are sent each week to the governmental portal for denouncing corruption, which is administered by the Ministry of Domestic Affairs. Although citizens are afraid of being identified publicly denounce corruption cases, health is the sector for which were collected more complaints. Only within a week 570 citizens sent to this portal their complaints and cases of corruption that they have encountered in health system. But this is only the official part of the denunciations made by citizens in concern of health. Every day starting from the biggest hospital of the country “Mother Teresa” and to other health institutions countrywide patients and their families denounce constantly, especially in the media, the bureaucracy they face to get health care.
From this mountain of health complaints and for white shirts also only a very small part, almost insignificant to adequately punish this phenomenon go to the end. Such has been the case of arrest for corruption of two doctors of the Sanatorium earlier this year. The story of denunciation of two doctors began without fuss from one of their colleagues. In February in the portal, specifically in the e-mail addressed to the Prime Minister was followed a complaint from a former doctor of the Hospital “Shefqet Ndroqi” Tirana, where was denounced a corruption case for doctors of this hospital. This email further on was sent to the Anti-Corruption Unit electronically to the Police Directorate of Tirana District. In this email, beside of the performance of the entire procedural actions before investigation resulted that Citizen A.S stated in front of a judicial police officer that P.H and A.L, both doctors of imagery in the hospital “Shefqet Ndroqi” are abusing with their duties as they perform and offer the scanner service, and ultrasound benefiting substantial amounts of money from various citizens who actually have to pay for this service in the state budget with relevant vouchers.
After investigations carried out by the Prosecution, the Court of Tirana with its decision no. 33, dated 25.02.2015 has allowed the interception of conversations with technical audio or video tools in imagery facilities of Hospital “Shefqet Ndroqi”. According to the transcript of conversations showed that these visits were developed in these offices with different persons with detained persons during or at the end of these visits, citizens paid different amount of money from 1000 to 6000 (lek) for each case, the data as unlawful benefit for detained persons in exchange for giving the service, visit and view of imagery.
Despite of actions of the two doctors of Sanatorium in order to obtain private benefit from visits at the premises of the hospital, according to the rules, citizens should be presented to the doctor of imagery with a receipt or recommendation from the relevant doctor and as a result the doctor offers the service of imagery. In any case the doctor should not accept payment after these payments are carried out to finance in account of the state budget. According to the transcript records associated with relevant pictures showed that the detained A.L has received considerable amounts of money in exchange of providing services for carrying out echoes, graphics or scanner at the request of the citizen.
This case was enough to put to sleep the justice system regarding the investigation and trial of reported cases of corruption in Health. In 2014 and 2015 in Tirana Court was not reported any request for trial of suspected or arrested doctors for corruption. The punishment rate of this phenomenon remains rather low, despite the complaints of citizens who say they have to pay a bribe to obtain medical services in hospitals. The large number of complaints is mainly reflected when they are made anonymously as the case of the corruption portal, where also issues do not end successfully. Only in one case the complaint was completed with the arrest of two doctors, while other denunciations were not proved successful. Also prosecution, in at least half year (2014- May 2015) has not sent any doctor to trial after denounce for corruption.
In this situation, Order of Physicians finds itself powerless to give the deserved punishment for cases of corruption in the health sector limiting themselves to disciplinary actions for doctors who have committed such violations. Contacted by investigim.al, the new head of the Order of Physicians of Albania, Fatmir Bajramaj said that complaints for corruption in health sent to this institution are minimal, as citizens themselves does not get involved in punishment of this phenomenon. “We, in cooperation with the departments of health institutions have requested the opening of patient complaints boxes. It must be said that very few cases for denunciation of corruption are delivered to us. Even those few cases are judged as a violation of medical ethics and deontology. Other corruption cases are judged by relevant institutions for violations of law.” says Bajramaj.
In the national assembly of the Order of Physicians that took place in April, leaders of this institution stated that the crisis of confidence towards white shirts and the relationship of communication between doctor and patient are two phenomena to which they are presented constantly. “The Order of Physicians has analyzed specific issues concerning doctors, the phenomenon of corruption and the controversial bribery, dignity and reputation of the doctor as well as the need to motivate and to make doctors more aware and committed to their profession” said during the annual analysis the former head of the Order of Physicians, Dine Abazaj.
According to him, this situation may be terminated through a reformed health system, which provides and makes available to doctors and citizens equipment and advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technology, infrastructural and logistic modernization of medical institutions and provides for doctors and other health professionals sales and more dignified bonuses etc. Also, Abazaj stressed that based on the plurality of complaints received and reviewed by the Order of Physicians, an increasing and identified phenomenon is the disconnection of the doctor from the patient, superficiality and lack of adequate communication with the patient.
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