The experience of an EU national in Riga
Niks is a citizen of the EU who received a temporary residence permit in Latvia and has been living in Riga for more than 3 years. Nick works in an international company. Nick has decided to find himself a family doctor (general practitioner). When he asked the National Health Service (NHS) which family doctor he could register with, the NHS sent him a list of family doctors available in his area and told him to contact these doctors himself. However, when Nick called these doctors, he got refused: one refused, saying he was going to retire, and encouraged Nick to contact another doctor; the second doctor mentioned that there are already so many patients in the practice that the doctor does not want to admit new ones at the moment; the third refused saying he would not work with foreigners and dropped the call.
What to do in a similar situation?
The Law on the Rights of Patients states that in ensuring the rights of patients, different treatment is prohibited depending on a person’s race, ethnic origin, skin color, gender, age, disability, state of health, religious, political or other beliefs, national or social origin, property or family condition or other circumstances. Disparate treatment includes direct or indirect discrimination against a person, insulting a person, or an instruction to discriminate against a person.
A family doctor may not agree to the registration of a person in the list of patients only in two cases:
- if the person lives outside the territory of the family doctor’s practice or if the list of patients of the family doctor is already full. This information can be verified in the NHS.
- A family doctor may not refuse to admit a patient solely on the basis that the person is a foreign national.
This information can be verified in the NHS. A family doctor may not refuse to admit a patient solely on the basis that the person is a foreign national!
If a person suspects possible discrimination, the person can complain to the Health Inspectorate, report to the Ombudsman, as well as, go to court.
In order to consult on what to do in a specific situation, a person can contact the Office of the Ombudsman or the Latvian Centre for Human Rights.
Why is it important to report discrimination?
Unjustifiably different treatment of persons on grounds such as skin colour, national or ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc. is prohibited.
It is important to report cases of discrimination in order to defend your rights, to receive a compensation for the damage caused, as well as, to prevent discrimination from happening.
National Health Service (NVD)
Cēsu iela 31 k-3, 6. ieeja, Rīga, LV-1012
This informative material is created as part of the project “Towards a more tolerant society: information, education, support and cooperation.” The project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and the Norwegian grant programme “Active Citizens Fund”. Make Room Europe and the Latvian Centre for Human Rights are fully responsible for the content of this material.