Doctors speak out on Hungary’s health care crisis

September 19, 2014


Hungary’s health care crisis “unbearable”.

“The government needs to invest in health care and make further reforms to encourage doctors to stay in Hungary.” – János Bélteczki, president of the Alliance of Hungarian Doctors

The situation inside Hungary’s health care institutions has become so unbearable that each day three doctors and two other medical professionals leave to work abroad, according to the recently formed “Honestly about Healthcare Alliance”.

János Bélteczki is the president of the Alliance of Hungarian Doctors, one of five medical advocacy groups that is calling for consultation with the government to discuss its health care plans. He told that the government policy of giving  scholarships to trainee doctors during its previous term has proved ineffective, and young health care professionals are emigrating as soon as they qualify because they can earn up to ten times more abroad than in Hungary. “The government needs to invest in health care and make further reforms to encourage doctors to stay in Hungary,” Bélteczki asserts.

The alliance wants to know whether the government is planning to continue the wage rises it began under former health state secretary Miklós Szócska, and whether the extra money received so far will be incorporated into attendance charges and overtime.  “There either need to be fewer institutions or bigger budgets,” according to Bélteczki.

The other four advocacy groups in the alliance are the National Alliance of Primary Care Doctors, the Independent Healthcare Trade Union, the Hungarian Resident Alliance and the Alliance of Medical University Trade Unions.

Fidesz-linked daily Magyar Nemzet wrote last month that the government has begun negotiations with the unions of Hungarian doctors on the possible introduction of a minimum wage for specialists. Health state secretary Gábor Zombor told the daily that further instruments were needed to retain health care specialists. “Government measures – including scholarships for graduates and a pay hike for 93,000 health workers – have slowed the trend of doctors seeking employment abroad,” he said.

In the first half of 2014, a total of 878 health care workers applied for a permit to work abroad as against 929 in the same period last year, Magyar Nemzet wrote. According to Hungarian Medical Chamber head István Éger the number of doctors working abroad is “so high that each further departure poses a problem for Hungary’s health care system”.

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