Together with my colleagues, I submitted draft law No. 10221 to the Verkhovna Rada. The document provides for increased criminal liability for assaults on medical workers, pharmacy workers, rehabilitation specialists, and rescuers. We propose establishing the same liability as for an attack on a police officer or a journalist. I will explain why this initiative is important.
Recently, law enforcement officers have recorded an increasing number of attacks on ambulance crews and medical workers. Because of the full-scale war, our citizens are becoming more aggressive, more often lashing out at those who save their lives.
The impunity of criminals is shocking. I will give several examples:
- “The patient pounced on the paramedic and beat him. In the trauma center, it was established that the doctor had a closed craniocerebral injury, a paraorbital hematoma”;
- “The intoxicated patient lost consciousness in the tram. When the paramedic tried to give him first aid, the man threw a bottle into the ambulance, damaging the back door of the car”;
- “A drunken man punched a female paramedic in the face, the police were called, the perpetrator was arrested.”
This is not a criminal chronicle, but the reports of Kyiv “emergency” workers after shifts for 2023. According to the statistics of the capital, we can see a gradual increase in the number of attacks: in 2021 – 8 cases, in 2022 – 14, this year – already 11.
In general, throughout the country, law enforcement officers record more than a hundred criminal proceedings for assaults on doctors per year. However, the real numbers are even higher, because a significant number of victims do not contact the police. If these cases go to court, they will most likely be interpreted as hooliganism. For beating a paramedic, the perpetrator can only receive a fine in the amount of UAH 17,000 to UAH 34,000.
There were attempts to solve the issue of protecting medics by installing an emergency button in an ambulance, in a pharmacy or in a hospital ward, by having security guards on duty in medical institutions. But such measures do not lead to a significant reduction in the number of attacks.
At the same time, there are professions in the legislation that face an increased risk of aggression. The Criminal Code of Ukraine provides for severe punishment for an attack on a law enforcement officer or journalist. A police officer faces up to 5 years in prison for causing minor bodily harm, and from 5 to 12 years for intentionally inflicting serious bodily harm. Therefore, in my opinion, medical workers should be added to the list of professions that face an increased risk of aggression.
In 2021, our Committee developed a corresponding draft law. During the discussion of the document with the law enforcement committee and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, we had a discussion on some issues. In particular, the law enforcement officers believed that doctors should not be allowed to have traumatic weapons. Like, it’s dangerous for people who don’t know how to use it. Although, as we can see on the example of the same journalists who were allowed to issue a trauma permit, the presence of traumatic weapons does not affect the statistics of attacks in particular. There were also disputes about what exactly should be considered as cases of knowingly mistakenly calling an “ambulance”, for which we proposed to increase the fine.
Our Committee took into account the comments of colleagues and submitted a new draft law No. 10221 to the parliament. We propose to expand the list of professions (medical workers, workers of the “emergency” system, pharmacies, rehabilitation specialists and rescuers) and to supplement the Criminal Code with new articles 350-1 and 350-2:
- threat of murder, violence or destruction or damage to property (punishable by correctional labor for a term of up to 2 years or arrest for a term of up to 6 months, or restriction of liberty for a term of up to 3 years, or deprivation of liberty for the same term);
- intentional infliction of beatings, light, moderate or severe bodily harm (punishable by restriction of liberty for a term of up to 5 years or deprivation of liberty for the same term; deprivation of liberty for a term of 5 to 12 years);
- murder or attempted murder (punishable by imprisonment for a term of 9 to 15 years or life imprisonment);
- capture or holding as a hostage (punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of 8 to 15 years).
I think that the adoption of the law will allow us to significantly reduce the number of attacks on doctors. Unfortunately, during the 32 years of independence, responsibility for attacks on medical workers has not been strengthened. I hope that our convocation of the Verkhovna Rada will pass a draft law that is actively supported by the medical community.
Mykhailo Radutskyihead of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on issues of national health, medical care and medical insurance
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