A major reorganization of the public health system involving the elimination and/or combination of a number of government offices and state institutes will take place in 2015, writes nol.hu. The reforms, which include the elimination of some 150 positions, are projected to save the state some HUF 500 million (USD 2 million) annually.
Nol.hu reports that the institutional reorganization was planned by the Office of the Prime Minister rather than the Ministry for Human Resources, which the daily online writes would have handled a number of matters differently. The government’s proposal is to go before the State Reform Committee when parliament resumes work in January.
The government’s proposal includes combining fifteen out of seventeen public health institutes into one centralized one. Only the State Ambulatory Service and the State Patients and Children’s Rights and Documentation Center are to remain independent. Furthermore out of nine state authorities responsible for public health, five are to be reorganized or eliminated. The State Health Authority (OTH), the State Public Health Center, the State Epidemiology Center and the State Inventory Management Institute are to remain.
Nol.hu reports that the responsibilities of the State Health Care Fund (OEP) are to be expanded to include the organization and administration of tasks to be taken over from the Hospital Maintenance Authority responsible for running Hungary’s public health clinics and hospitals nationalized in 2011. Furthermore, OEP is to exercise the state’s ownership rights with respect to the assets used by the public health secretariat.
Not known at this time is whether the reforms are merely intended to save money or will actually result in an overall improvement in the quality of public health care. Government critics and independent health care experts are concerned that mounting hospital arrears are a serious obstacle to reform. Furthermore, they point out that Hungary’s public health care system suffers from a serious shortage of health care experts. Over 8000 Hungarian doctors and dentists and more than 2,500 nurses and midwives have taken employment abroad over the past seven and one half years