MITERA – LETO Press Release: Unfair and unlawful fine enforcement

Regarding the enforced fine from the General Secretariat of Consumer Affairs for the charges associated with the collection of stem cells in the MITERA-LITO maternity hospital facilities, that is unsoundly characterized as illegal, we would like to inform the public of the following:

1. MITERA and LITO maternity hospitals during their long-standing course of excellence in the sensitive area of health services have clearly demonstrated that they fully observe the law and any institutional rules and, thus, have never so far received any complaints regarding the legality of their operation.

2. All parents prior to birth visit the accounting departments of our clinics and receive a full description of our charges including the charges associated with the stem cells collection that is an optional medical procedure. In the last two years, more than 9,500 stem cells samples have been collected in both maternity hospitals with excellent success rates. To our knowledge there were very few official complaints stating that parents did not consent in advance to this procedure.

3. The opinion of the Inspectors of Health and Welfare Services that were involved in the case was issued in January 2010. The opinion was clear and stated among others that “the charges imposed by private maternity hospitals for the collection of umbilical cord blood in their premises are within the legal framework of the private health care services units”.

4. All the issues at hand were explained thoroughly by our clinics in an extensive memorandum. The memorandum was accompanied by any relevant documents and visual material (DVD) and was submitted to the General Secretariat of Consumer Affairs. In addition, an oral hearing was requested. Unfortunately, the competent authority ignored this request and did not seek our opinion on the matter, ignoring at the same time the opinion of the Inspectors of Health and Welfare Services.  Subsequently, the authority proceeded in the enforcement of an unfair and unlawful fine instead.

5. We urge the Minister of Health to intervene and cancel the illegal and unfair decision of the General Secretariat of Consumer Affairs since this arbitrary decision is against any legal entrepreneurship. Moreover, we ask the Minister to investigate any underlying reasons that led to this decision and duly act. Otherwise, our clinics will appeal to the competent bodies and Courts in order to annul the above mentioned unfair and unlawful decision.