Comptroller: Complaints against Health Ministry nearly double

Some 69.2% of the complaints against the Health Ministry were found to be valid, up from the already high 61.1% found to be valid in 2018.

STATE COMPTROLLER Matanyahu Englman. (photo credit: Courtesy)
STATE COMPTROLLER Matanyahu Englman.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The number of complaints against the Health Ministry in 2019 doubled to a staggering 916 from 504 in 2018 and 376 in 2017, according to a report by State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman on Tuesday.
Of the complaints against the Health Ministry, 69.2% were found to be valid, up from 61.1% in 2018.
All of this was before the coronavirus hit Israel in February and March.
As the country’s ombudsman for public complaints, Englman reported some similar trends for other ministries.
For example, complaints against the Transportation Ministry rose to 936 in 2019 from 824 in 2018 and 509 in 2017.
This jump gave the Transportation Ministry the negative distinction of having the most complaints of any government body in 2019.
As in 2018, the percentage of complaints from the public against government authorities that were found to be valid was 35.2%. It was 29.1% in 2016 and has been steadily rising.
The Israel Post Office again had the worst percentage, with 73.5% of complaints found to be valid in 2019, up from 72.7% in 2018.
The Transportation Ministry had a slight improvement in overcoming complaints, with 42.6% found to be valid in 2019, down from 49.7% in 2018.
Complaints against the Social Affairs and Welfare Ministry were found to be valid 53.4% of the time in 2019, up from about 40% in 2018.
About 40% of complaints against the Israel Tax Authority and the Education Ministry were found to be valid.
The National Insurance Institute saw a decrease in complaints from the 2018 high of 1,101 to 898 in 2019.
The report also gave a 10-year overview of trends for complaints dating back to 2010.
A major issue with the Health Ministry has been that the government body is too restrictive in approving medical use of cannabis.
Regarding cannabis, the report found that 91% of complaints received from the public were valid or required intervention to address the issue, up from 85% in 2018.
The volume of complaints tripled from 174 in 2018 to 534 in 2019, the report said.
Many sick people fell victim to numerous bureaucratic pitfalls when they appealed to the unit for getting a medical-marijuana license or for renewing their license. This is even as the number of approved licenses has doubled from 32,000 to 65,000, the report said.
The Comptroller’s Office has said those pitfalls included substantial delays for intake of the requests and for handling the requests, as well as a failure to update patients on the status of their requests.
Delays included a lack of practical ability to get through to representatives by telephone, failing to respond to inquiries in writing or fax and a general approach of being suspicious of those seeking cannabis.
Overall, the Comptroller’s Office has repeatedly said the outdated mentality of the Health Ministry unit dealing with medical marijuana, and not a lack of resources, was a primary cause of the problem.
There were also complaints against the IDF from both ends of the spectrum.
Some complaints said the IDF refused to take health objections to service seriously, while other complaints said it did not adequately facilitate motivated adolescents to serve in more ambitious and tougher units.