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Patient had to wait over ten months for an operation at the Tampere University Central Hospital

Ombudsman issues reprimand for unlawful action


Parliamentary Ombudsman Riitta-Leena Paunio has criticised the Pirkanmaa Hospital District for having made a patient wait over ten months for an operation at the Tampere University Central Hospital.

A referral for the patient had arrived at the Tampere University Central Hospital in the latter half of January 2007. An operation had been deemed necessary and the patient had been placed on a waiting list. The target waiting time for the operation had been set at two months. However, it was only in late November 2007 that the operation was performed.

Ombudsman Paunio emphasises in her decision on the patient's complaint that when treatment has been deemed medically necessary, the urgency of the need must be assessed and treatment must begin within a time that is reasonable in that light. In considering what is a reasonable time, the patient's state of health, the probable course of the disease and, for example, restoration of ability to work must be taken into consideration. In any event, the law requires that the patient be admitted for treatment within six months of its necessity having been established. When a joint authority is itself unable to provide the patient with treatment within this period, it must procure treatment from other service providers.

According to a report received by the Ombudsman, the patient had suffered severe pains and as a result was hardly able to work at all. Indeed, the time within which treatment would be needed had been estimated at the Tampere University Central Hospital as being considerably shorter than six months, given that two months had been recommended as the target waiting period.

Nevertheless, the Pirkanmaa Hospital District had not arranged treatment for the patient within this period nor even within the maximum of six months for which the treatment guarantee provides.  Nor did it procure treatment for the patient from other service providers.

The Ombudsman found that the hospital district thus neglected its statutory duty. She has given it a reprimand for having acted unlawfully.

Additional information will be provided by Legal Adviser Leena-Maija Vitie, tel. +358 (0)9 432 3349.