Procedure for receiving the external clients---
The meetings with the external entities constitute the area of particular risk of lobbying, informal pressure and corruption offers. Contacts with the representatives of pharmaceutical sectors related to drawing-up the list of reimbursed drugs are of particular sensitive nature in the Ministry of Health.
Responding the need to regulate these contacts the Procedure for receiving external clients in the Minister of Health of 6 August, 2013 was adopted.
This document was preceded by the analogical procedures of 18 February, 2008, 4 December, 2009 and 14 June, 2011, respectively. The procedure currently in force is harmonized with the provisions of the Act of 7 July, 2005 on lobbying activity in the law-making process (Jounal of Laws No. 169, item 1414, as amended) and with the Ordinance no. 2 of the Director General of the Ministry of Health of 14 March, 2006 on the manner of proceeding of the employees of the Minister of Health against the actions taken by the entities involved in professional lobbing and the entities involved in professional lobbing not entered into the activity register, amended by the Ordinance no. 6 of the Director General of the Ministry of Health of 6 May, 2006.
The abovementioned procedure ensures transparency of the rules, on the basis of which the meetings with the external entities are prepared and conducted, in particular with a focus to potential lobbying activities.
Deciding the applications for reimbursement is the responsibility of the Drug Policy and Pharmacy Department of the Ministry of Health, i.e. the Reimbursement and Legal Division and Reimbursement and Analysis Division. Such structure poses a risk of external pressure and potential occurrences of corruption mechanisms, which may take a form of e.g. lobbying for certain drugs or limit groups. In this scope, the procedure requirements opt for cooperation between the Drug Policy and Pharmacy Department and the coordinating unit (Director General Office in the Ministry of Health) which – in case of any doubts – decides on lobbying or non-lobbying nature of the meeting.
According to the procedural requirements, all external customers should request the meeting in advance by filing an application. It must contain presentation of the subject-matter of the meeting in in a form of the agenda.
Certain groups of external clients are obliged (mandatory requirement) to provide data on the financial sources of the entities to be represented at the meeting or legal or factual circumstances which may provide financial benefits or potential benefits to the representing party. Shall the provided data be false, the Drug Policy and Pharmacy Department rejects the meeting. In such case any and all information is provided by correspondence in writing.
Course of the meeting with the external client is recorded by audio recording devices. On the basis of this provision, the meeting protocol is drawn-up on request of the external client.
In addition, the procedure assigns the obligations and determines specific organization of work of the Drug Policy and Pharmacy Department, responsible for technical aspects of the meetings and documents flow between the member of the top management of the Ministry of Health in charge of drug policy, organizational unit competent in this area and coordinating unit.
Apart from that – pursuant to the instruction issued on 14 March, 2012 by Marcin Antoniak, current deputy Director General of the Ministry of Health – since 19 March, 2012, each organizational unity of the Ministry of Health is obliged to keep the External Client Registry (in line with specific template). Each organizational unit has the designated secretary office employee responsible for registry keeping. The meetings with the external entities justified by the performed tasks must be reported in writing to the security of the building in advance. The security should be provided with a list of the meeting participant, its place, date and time. Shall the invited participant arrive by car and there is a need to use the parking space at the area of the Ministry – the list should also include the registration number of such car. The employee of the Ministry of Health receiving the visitors or responsible for the meeting organization shall be obliged to direct the visitors to the right place and upon completion of the meeting escort the visitors outside.
Particular carefulness in contacts with external clients reflects also in operation of the other organizational units of the Ministry of Health. This is e.g. Mother and Child Department responsible for purchase of vaccines for mandatory protective vaccinations. The employee of the Mother and Child Department in charge of vaccinations participates in the meetings with the representatives of pharmaceutical companies. Consent for organizing the meeting attended by the representatives of these companies and the employees of the Ministry of Health is issued by the member of top management of the Ministry of Health supervising the Drug Policy and Pharmacy Department. All responses to the inquiries of the vaccine manufacturers, members of parliament or non-governmental organizations interested in changes to the Protective Vaccination Programme are consulted with the Pediatric Expert Team for the Protective Vaccination Programme or any other entities – national consultants or the Main Sanitary Inspectorate. In addition, the employees of the Mother and Child Department are not allowed to receive any gifts from the external clients.
When organizing conferences dedicated to the issues in the scope of competences of the Mother and Child Department, the Department does not invite to cooperation the companies which use or might use public funds allocated to health protection. The Department requires also from the co-organizing entities to avoid any contacts with such companies at the organizational and performance stage.
In addition, since 20 February, 2013 the Rules and regulations for granting the Honorary Patronage of the Minister of Health and participation of the Minister of Health in the honorary committee of the event or initiative has been valid. The organizer of the event or initiative must request for obtaining the honorary patronage or participation of the minister in the honorary committee, to which the programme or rules and regulations of the event or initiative and information on the sources of financing and sponsors thereof is enclosed. The registry of applications is kept by the Office of the Minister, submitting it for publication at the official website. The Office performs also the formal assessment and initial content-related assessment of the submitted applications. The Office of the Minister may also apply for opinion on the relevance of honorary patronage to the competent organizational unit of the Minister of Health or subordinate unit or the unit supervised by the minister. The Office of the Minister requests the opinion of the Press and Promotion Bureau each time. Upon completion of the application proceeding, the Office of the Minister provides the minister with recommendation on relevance of honorary patronage over the event or initiative or participation in the honorary committee, signed by the head of the Political Cabinet of the Minister of Health. Shall the minister agree for granting honorary patronage or participation in the honorary committee, the event or initiative organizer is obliged to submit a report on the course of the event or initiative within 30 days from its completion.
The other area at risk of corruption related to contacts with the external clients is the operation of the Qualification Recognition Division in the Department of Science and Higher Education. The employees of the Division have frequent contacts with the external clients, for the most foreigners, requesting for recognition of their medical qualifications gained abroad or in Poland to be used e.g. when working abroad. To eliminate the potential corruption risk, a single external client is serviced by at least two employees of the said Division. In addition their work is subject to continuous monitoring by the head of the Division and Department director.