Following successful HCLU campaign, the Hungarian National Ambulance Service instructs its staff not to inform the police in drug related emergency cases.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) has been frequently consulted by drug users who were reported to the police by the ambulance service while receiving emergency care. HCLU has emphasized that this practice violates patient rights and data protection laws. In addition, it has harmful social consequences, such as the reluctance of drug users to call the ambulance in emergency cases because of the fear of arrest, even if in some cases the lack of fast emergency care can have fatal result.
Back in 1997 HCLU submitted a request to the Ombudsman of Data Protection to investigate the issue. The Ombudsman pointed out in its position paper that according to recent laws the ambulance is authorized to call the police only in those cases when there is a concrete reason to suppose that the life or physical safety of the staff is in danger. However, some of the ambulance services kept using this unlawful practice and several drug users faced criminal prosecution just because they were seeking for medical help.
The human rights concerns stressed by HCLU finally changed the attitude of the National Ambulance Service (NAS). In July 2005 the Director-General issued an official order to instruct local ambulance services not to call the police automatically in drug related emergency cases. In a recent case when HCLU informed the NAS that an overdosed drug user realized in the hospital that policemen are waiting in front of the door, they sent an official warning which called the regional ambulance service for following the order of NAS Director-General and respect the privacy of drug user patients in the future.