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Patients' rights: reflections towards change

15 December 2022

At the beginning of December, the national media notified the public of the dismissal of the Patient Ombudsman by the Prime Minister. This news did not come as a surprise to some experts in the field of patient rights. Unfortunately, the Ombudsman for Patients, who has been in office for more than seven years, has not become an opinion-forming centre where key legal and medical issues for society would be discussed. The veracity of this opinion is confirmed by the numerous criticisms directed towards the office in question by both the patient community and the medical council. In the positions cited here, attention was drawn to the numerous statutory shortcomings in the functioning of the Ombudsman. It was emphasised that it is not really an ombudsman, i.e. an impartial, independent official defending rights and freedoms. Are similar opinions justified? Perhaps not only the way the above-mentioned office functions, but also the shape of the Polish Act on Patients' Rights and Patients' Rights Ombudsman constitutes a significant problem of a legal and social nature? In view of the criticism of the adopted model and the functioning of the Ombudsman for Patients' Rights to date, it is worth considering whether this is in fact a necessary institution. The proposed article will attempt to answer similar questions.