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„Most People Do not Benefit from the New Law“
The Federal Association Forum of Disabled People’s Self-Determined Assistance (ForseA) lobbies for people who need personal assistance. MEDICA.de spoke to the chairman of the association, Gerhard Bartz, about poor information and the bureaucratic jungle.
MEDICA.de: Mr. Bartz, why is it that a hospital stay could be life-threatening for people with handicap?
Gerhard Bartz: Depending on the degree of handicap a personal assistant is indispensable. A patient, for example, who needed permanently artificial respiration, was dependent on a personal assistant because of his disability. While staying in the hospital he had to dispense with his assistant. Suddenly, his respirator stopped working but he was not able to push the emergency button because of his handicap. As a result, the nursing staff could not help in time and the patient died.
MEDICA.de: Are disabled people not allowed to be accompanied by their personal assistant in hospitals?
Bartz: Yes, they are. But just for half a year because of a new law. It was created because of an initiative of our association. However, the law only allows disabled people who engage personal assistants on the basis of regular employment contracts to be accompanied.
MEDICA.de: So the problem is solved, is it not?
Bartz: No, unfortunately not. The problem with it is that many hospitals are not informed about the new law. That is why they often refuse to admit assistants. As a result, the disabled patient has to fight for his right, but he will be supported by our operational guidelines which are provided at our website.
MEDICA.de: Personal assistance is not always based on a regular employment contract. There is also the possibility to instruct an ambulatory nursing service to employ an assistant or to reach a private arrangement with relatives or friends. Do these arrangements also benefit from the new law?
Bartz: No, unfortunately not. Only those who have closed a regular contract benefit from the law. However, this is a minority, approximately five percent. The others are ignored. Most people do not benefit from the new law.
MEDICA.de: So there is still a lot to do?
Bartz: Yes, that is true. But I think the new government will not change anything in the near future. Nevertheless, I can be taught of a better with pleasure. We rather put our hope in the courts. Since where the equal treatment fails, actions are usually lodged. Then there it is up to the courts to attend to this subject.
MEDICA.de: To which legal basis for suretyship can people with need of assistance appeal, if they sue?
Bartz: For example to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Though it is still no applicable law, but it embodies at least an orientation for the legislation. Moreover, there are the court decisions which refer to them. Among others, with the UN Convention the contracting states have binded themselves to ensure an adequate standard of living and social protection for handicapped people. Among others, this is guaranteed by personal assistance – also in the hospital or in the cure and regardless of being an employer. The UN Convention is a great basis to which we can appeal. It gives us tail wind.
The interview was conducted by Nadine Lormis.