First published: 83% of complaints filed against the Medical Cannabis Unit at the Ministry of Health were found to be justified, according to the 2017 Ombudsman's report, which found severe and severe defects in conduct. Among other complaints: delays in the receipt of applications, failure to handle requests, loss of documents and more.
This is not surprising, but the report of the Ombudsman for 2017 published Monday shows that the Medical Cannabis Unit of the Ministry of Health (YKR) is the leader in the percentage of justified complaints against it.
Thus, for example, it was found that 74% of the complaints against Israel Post were justified, 47% of the complaints against the Tax Authority were found to be justified, 39% of the complaints against the Ministry of Transport, 35% of the complaints against the IEC were justified and so on.
Initial data on the new report have been revealed About three months ago, And found severe and severe defects in the management of the NII - the body responsible for serving the medical cannabis patients and handling their requests.
Today is published as stated The full report For public review, describing the problems in the unit's conduct, including harsh criticism of harm to patients. The report did not specifically examine the conduct of the director of the JDC, Yuval Landstafft.
It is important to clarify that the State Comptroller's criticism was not on the pilot that began two months ago, in which Cannabis Magazine revealed a variety of problematic practices and illegal provisions that harm patients. The magazine will forward all its findings to the State Comptroller's Office, who wrote in the report that the ministry will continue to monitor the matter.
The report opens with a description of many studies that demonstrate the efficacy of cannabis for the treatment of oncology and neurological diseases, post-trauma, pain, and more. According to the state comptroller Yosef Shapira Many patients who have not been able to cure their suffering for years have shown that cannabis allows them to return to normal life.
At the beginning of the interview, Shapira describes the procedure for obtaining the medical cannabis license in Israel, which begins with the submission of a request to the Ministry of Health together with a recommendation from an expert physician who is being examined by the NII and if it is approved the patient is issued a license to use cannabis which must be renewed every few months.
According to the comptroller, since the establishment of the YKR, the Commission has been accepted Hundreds of complaints Its functioning, including its handling of requests for cannabis.
The complaints revealed that the patients faced many bureaucratic obstacles regarding the receipt of cannabis. In the complaints there were repeated complaints about non-receipt of applications sent to the unit, a significant delay in the receipt and processing of requests, loss of documents, failure to handle requests that did not include supporting documents, In their request.
It was further claimed that the ICR does not respond to written requests, and that its call center is not available at all or that the waiting time for response is unreasonable, as we have revealed in the magazine Often.
According to the report 83% of the complaints filed in 2017 on YKR were found to be justified. "It should be noted that it was the intervention of the Commission that enabled the complainants to overcome the bureaucratic barriers they faced and to receive the treatment they needed," it said.
Among other things, it was found that 80 complaints received during the year 2017 against the JIC revealed that the unit's claims of documents that were actually lost were not lacking, but the applicants did not receive any response to their requests.
The report details specific complaints from Israeli citizens, such as the complaint of a disabled veteran who complained in October of a delay in renewing his cannabis license, which expired months earlier in July. As a result, he does not receive the treatment he needs, and despite attempts to contact YKR, including faxes and telephones, the move did not succeed. Following the intervention of the Commission, its license was renewed only in November - four months in arrears.
One of the most prominent issues in the report is criticism of the conduct of the Medical Cannabis Unit by fax, leading to loss of documents. "One of the complainants complained that he had to submit his application to renew his license four times until it was registered - each time he had to wait two weeks to verify the arrival of the fax, as requested by the NII. "As a result, his license was not renewed on time and his therapeutic schedule was interrupted."
Another prominent issue is the long waiting times on the telephone line at the YKRI center. "Most of the complainants complain that they had to wait hours to receive a response from the call center, without the possibility of leaving a telephone number for a return, as is customary in many bodies," the auditor notes, giving an example of a case in which a patient with 100 has a waiting period of 4. "Even when he managed to obtain the focus, the talks were often broken off."
The comptroller notes the Ministry of Health's announcement that it is working to increase the number of doctors authorized to approve the use of medical cannabis and to improve the functioning of the call center, but emphasizes that in the meantime demand for cannabis is increasing and bureaucratic problems are increasing.
The Health Ministry said in response: "We have read the report of the Ombudsman, and we are studying the main problems and testimonies that arise from the report and understand the difficulties of the patients. It is important to emphasize that at the JIC's headquarters, 10 currently has a telephone representation and every day the BIC receives 1000 requests. The Ministry of Health worked to increase the number of representatives handling requests in order to speed up the processing of applications, which actually reduced the burden of the center because applicants would receive answers faster. It should be noted that the center is flooded with requests, some of which are not always relevant and that are loaded at the stake. We emphasize that in the near future at the time of the national reform in medical cannabis, we expect that the number of applicants will decrease significantly and there will be no delays since patients will be able to visit one of the doctors and receive a monthly license from doctors. As stated, the Ministry respects the Ombudsman's work and improved the activities of the Hotline. "