As last year This year, too, the State Comptroller's report describes many complaints of patients who need medical cannabis and are forced to cope with the failures of the NICU, the medical cannabis unit of the Ministry of Health, headed by Yuval Landstafft.
According to the State Comptroller, the number of complaints received in 2018 about the medical cannabis unit was almost two and a half times the number of complaints received in 2017 - a very significant figure, since the previous report reached the first place in the number of justified complaints against it.
Since 85% of the complaints on the unit in the new report were justified or corrected following the intervention of the Commission, the State Comptroller provided a detailed description of the complaints about the unit in the past year.
The comptroller lists dozens of complaints regarding the treatment of medical cannabis by the Ministry of Health and the HMOs. For example, a worker complained that the Clalit HMO refuses to pay for the cost of medical cannabis he needs due to his work injury.
"The investigation revealed that the National Insurance Institute approved the treatment of cannabis and informed Clalit that it had to pay for it, but this refused to do so," it said. "Only after the intervention of the Commission did the General Assembly agree to pay the complainant the cost of medical cannabis."
According to the report, "2018 complaints focused, like 2017, on the bureaucratic hurdles that make it difficult for tens of thousands of patients who need medical cannabis to receive it."
The auditor details the main points of the complaints:
- Non-absorption of requests sent to the NPO
- Loss of documents transferred to the LIC
- Failure to deal with applications that lack supporting documents, without giving the applicants or their doctors a real-time notice
- Considerable delay in the absorption and processing of requests, which often causes the disruption of the therapeutic continuum
- Delays in the transfer of licenses to entities providing the medical cannabis
- Non-updating of applicants regarding the progress of handling their applications
- The waiting time for the call center operated by an external company on behalf of the JIC and through which information is provided to the applicants is prolonged and unreasonable, and that it is often the focus
The phone is given to those requesting information that is not relevant
According to the comptroller, "many times without the intervention of the Commission, the applicants would have stayed for many months without medical cannabis. In this context, the director of the NII promised the Ombudsman that in the near future significant changes would be introduced in the work method, which would correct many of the failures that arose from the complaints. "
In the full reportHereThe auditor lists examples of requests received in the past year, which illustrate some of the deficiencies described above:
- MS patients submitted a request for medical cannabis at the beginning of August. When no decision was made regarding his request, the patient contacted the Ombudsman in October, and the latter applied to the NII to clarify the status of the application. It turned out that when the Commission applied to the NII, as stated, the complainant's request was not even typed into the computer system of the JIC, and it goes without saying that its treatment did not begin at all. Only following the request of the NII, did the request be processed and 18.12.4 was issued a license to use medical cannabis. However, his difficulties did not end there, since it was found that the identity number printed in the license was incorrect, and therefore the license had to be revoked and reprinted for two weeks. In the end, the complainant was granted a license to use cannabis only four months after submitting a request, and this is a considerable and unreasonable delay.
- A patient who has been using medical cannabis for a decade has asked the Commission to help him after his cannabis license was not renewed on time and remains without cannabis. The complainant noted that even though he turned to the NII many times and repeatedly sent documents proving that he is entitled to renew his license to use cannabis, and even though he turned to the Health Minister's office on the matter, he was unable to obtain a substantive response. In addition, the complainant complained of waiting for an hour or two for her at the call center, adding that often the conversation ended, which in effect made it impossible to obtain the call center. The complainant claimed that he submitted the application to renew his license in April 2018, about two and a half months before the expiry date of the license. HCR claimed that at the time of the Commission's appeal to it in July, it had not yet received the complainant's request, but the inquiry revealed that the request had already been received in April, as claimed by the complainant, but had not yet been processed. Only after the intervention of the Commission was the request processed, and the complainant's license was renewed. The complaint was also justified in terms of the waiting period for answering the telephone call center, and the Commission pointed out to the NII on this systemic flaw.
- Another complainant's request for a license to use medical cannabis was approved after seven months of waiting, in which various malfunctions occurred in her case. For example, according to the NII, the complainant was sent a post stating that she is required to send to the unit additional documents that prove her right to receive a license to use medical cannabis, but her complainant or doctor did not receive such notice from the Chief of Staff. In addition, the complainant complained that it was difficult for her to obtain the call center to find out how her request was being processed. In the end, after the intervention of the Commission, the NII stated that the complainant's license had been issued and would be transferred to the supplier for the purpose of giving cannabis to the complainant. However, the complainant's requests to the supplier were denied, since the complainant did not receive the license, and the complainant again turned to the Ombudsman. It was only after the commission's appeal that the NII issued the license, signed it and transferred it to the supplier, a process that lasted another month, and as a result the complainant could finally get the cannabis that had been waiting for him for many months. The Commission commented to the ILC that sending mail notices is not an accepted means of communication nowadays, and that it is not enough to do so, and that licenses should be printed and delivered to suppliers in the shortest and most efficient way.
- Another complainant filed a request in November for a renewal of her license for medical cannabis. The complainant sent the application to the ICR both by fax and e-mail, in accordance with the details specified on the Ministry of Health's website. In a conversation with the call center in October, 2018 informed the complainant that the request had not been received and that she had not sent it to the correct e-mail address, and she was asked to send it back to another e-mail address. The complainant did so, but even after a month and a half, her appeal was not granted, and she turned to the Ombudsman. The Commission's investigation revealed that the complainant initially sent the request to the e-mail address that is published on the Ministry of Health's website, but in practice the NII receives requests and documents from patients by means of a different e-mail address designated for this purpose. The designated e-mail address is not published on the network site, but is indicated in lowercase letters at the bottom of the application form for a license to use cannabis. Furthermore, it was found that even after the request was sent to the designated e-mail address, it was not addressed, and its treatment only began following the intervention of the Commission. In the circumstances, the complaint was found to be justified, and the Commission informed LIC that it must publicize its contact details in a clear and clear manner, so that additional patients would not send requests and documents to an incorrect e-mail address and erroneously assume that their request would be processed.
These findings are a direct continuation of YKAR's conduct, which in response to the findings of the report requires that the new system will be able to repair a large part of the malfunctions. However, these days it appears that the automated system is also full of bugs, such as emails that are sent to the wrong recipients or licenses that are given without any details.