Children should have the opportunity to stay in hospitals with their parents, which is guaranteed by the European Association for Children in Hospital Charter and the Polish legal regulations. In turn, hospitals have the right to collect a fee for the stay of the parents.

“When the rights of child patients are violated, parents, individuals and establishments dealing with child care can count on the assistance of the Children’s Rights Attorney and the Patient Rights Attorney. Children, due to their age, should be treated by the medical personnel with particular care and involvement," Krystyna Barbara Kozłowska, the Patient Rights Attorney, tells the e-zdrowie website.

The European Association for Children in Hospital Charter

The rights of the hospitalised children are regulated by the “European Association for Children in Hospital Charter". It was established and approved by 12 non-governmental organisations during the First Conference of the European Association for Children in Hospital (EACH) in 1988.

The charter states that children are entitled to be with their parents during the entire hospitalisation. Both children and parents should have access to information and the right of participation in all decisions concerning the treatment.

Children should only be admitted to a hospital if the treatment cannot be provided at home. They should be protected from unnecessary diagnostics and therapy. They should be treated with tact and understanding, and their right to intimacy should be respected.

Children in hospitals should stay with their peers and be provided with the opportunity to play, rest, and learn.

The European Child Hospital Patient’s Rights Charter in Poland

In the opinion of the Patient Rights Attorney, the provisions of the charter can be implemented in Polish hospitals; this is allowed by the current legal regulations.

As stated by Kozłowska, the right to stay in a hospital with the parents or guardians guaranteed by the Charter is also contained in the Act on patient rights and the Patient Rights Attorney. She also notes that numerous hospitals in Poland are trying to implement the postulate contained in the Charter related to providing a friendly environment and the opportunity to play, rest, and learn.

According to their individual capabilities, the hospitalised children take advantage of classes, therapy, and various activities filling their free time.

The hospital directors are more and more eager to adapt the appearance of children’s wards to the ages of the little patients (e.g. specially painted walls) to alleviate the inconvenience related to their hospitalisation.

Fees for parent stay

Both the parents and the children see the opportunity to stay together during the hospitalisation as the most important aspect.

Most hospitals allow the parents to stay with the children for 24 hours, but some of them collect fees which cover the costs associated with the stay (water, power, cleaning, the use of appliances, etc.).

This fee in the Warsaw Children's Memorial Health Institute is PLN 6.8 per night and PLN 20 per 24 hours in the Mother and Child Institute.

If the parents are unable to cover these costs, they may approach the hospital director for exemption from the fees; there are non-governmental organisations active at certain hospitals which provide assistance in such situations.

The fee is legal, since the act on patient rights and the Patient Rights Attorney states that the costs of additional nursing care cannot be borne by the hospital.

The Ministry of Health stresses that the fees cannot exceed the actual costs of the stays of the hospitalised children’s guardians. Collecting excessive fees is a violation of patient rights.

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