Statement of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights on the maternity wards undergoing refurbishment
Within the framework of the Family-Friendly Obstetrics Application Programme, as of 2018, hospitals have become able to apply for subsidies intended to be used for developing family-friendly obstetrics or neonatal intensive care units. As a result, several investments have begun. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights calls upon the heads of healthcare institutions to pay particular attention to ensure patients’ rights during the reconstruction works.
Family-friendly healthcare is primarily based on the vision that considers the mother, the father and the child to be born/new born child as a unit, and regards childbirth as a natural process. In order to ensure that all patients’ fundamental rights are enforced, the infrastructure that underpins the services of healthcare institutions must undoubtedly be put at the service of patients’ rights and the family-centred healthcare model. However, it would be very unfortunate if the reconstructions launched for this purpose were started with a significant step back in respect of family-centred care – albeit temporarily.
The Act on healthcare clearly states in its chapter on patients’ rights that a woman in labour shall have the right to designate a person of age who can stay with her continuously during labour and delivery, and after delivery, as a general rule, to have her new-born baby placed in the same room with her. Furthermore, a patient shall have the right to receive visitors during his or her stay in an in-patient facility. The law also undoubtedly lays down that these rights may be exercised by patients subject to the conditions existing in the hospital, while respecting fellow-patients' rights and ensuring the undisturbed delivery of patient care.
As Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, I call upon the institutions concerned that in the course of planning the reconstruction and renovation works, they pay particular attention to the fact that they need to keep in mind that the hospital is a venue for a one-time and unrepeatable event from the viewpoint of the families concerned. I ask you to earn the confidence of families turning to you by taking into account the dignity of birth and human dignity, and use restrictions only as a last resort and by no means as a starting point.
At the same time, I would like to invite the Ministry of Human Capacities State Secretary for Healthcare – without prejudice to its obligation on objective institutional protection – to help successful applicants by developing a methodological guide which gives priority to the enforcement of patients’ rights even in the course of reconstruction works, and which helps the heads of institutions with practical ideas – with respect to the available means – during the temporary reorganisation of patient care.
Let's work together to ensure that birth remains a miracle for everyone, everywhere!
29 October 2019
Dr. Ákos Kozma
Commissioner for Fundamental Rights