Free Parental Stay in Hospital with Child: A New Proposal from the Czech Health Ministry

The Czech Ministry of Health proposes that parents should be allowed to stay with their child in the hospital without paying any extra fees. This comes as an attempt to eliminate instances where hospitals charge even for providing a chair next to the child’s bed. According to the ministry’s proposal, the Ministry should give space for the presence of one parent without any charges, although paid options will still be available.

Deputy Minister of Health Josef Pavlovic explained, “Hospitals can offer you a double room, regular meals, and a shower. However, there must always be a basic way to fulfill the right to be present with the child, and it must be free of charge. For example, a chair next to the bed should be free as an absolute minimum.”

It is a legal right for a parent, foster parent, or guardian to stay in the hospital with a minor child continuously. The Ministry reiterated Ministryhospitals last year in a methodology they will follow. Now, they plan to prevent the abuse of fees and write into the Health Services Act that payment cannot be demanded before allowing a parent to stay with their child in the hospital. The amendment could be in effect from January next year.

Last year, the Czech Helsinki Committee drew attention to a complaint against the Faculty Thomayer Hospital in Prague. According to the price list of the Clinic of Pediatric Surgery and Traumatology, they charged for a “companion chair” in a standard room from 220 to 330 crowns. The committee protested against this in an open letter, calling it unethical and illegal.

The new regulations only charge for the stay of a close person or companion with a hospitalized child, and that’s for a bed or extra bed. The former wording was deemed inappropriate and occurred due to an administrative error. Services beyond the standard care are being charged.

The situation is complicated by the building dispositions of hospitals, which do not allow beds for parents to fit into the rooms. Alice Řezníčková, the professional guarantor of the organization Srdcem Robinson, points out that it is not the solution to provide a chair next to the bed and then charge people for it.

She emphasized, “Having a seriously ill child there and not having the ability to wash, lie down, it is very demanding. You can withstand it one night, and then you collapse. If you want to support the child, you have to rest. It’s a huge stress.”