Hungarian health-care experiencing acute shortage of professionals

June 19, 2017

Even pro-government daily Magyar Idők is reporting on the huge human resources shortage in Hungary’s health-care system. According to the conservative online daily, more than 5,000 pension-aged physicians and nurses have been granted exemptions under the “work or retirement” governmental decree in force since 2013. Now health-care sector managers and interest groups are calling for the decree to be reviewed.

In July 1, 2013, a government decree came into force that required pension-aged employees in the public sector to choose whether to retire or to remain in the workplace. The decree further exacerbated staffing shortages in a health-care sector already suffering a serious lack of professionals.

Of the 5,400 exemptions requested under the decree, the government approved more than 5,000, rejecting just over 300 requests (which would have allowed pension-eligible staff to continue working). According to Magyar Idők, practically every pension-eligible physician continues to work.

But staffing shortages among health-care professionals continue to remain unresolved as the problem keeps growing year after year. This situation is aggravated by growing numbers of young Hungarian health-care workers who elect to pursue work opportunities abroad. In other words, health-care professionals who, by law, should retire, are making up the shortage of fresh professionals.

Despite the seriousness of the problem, Hungarian officials seem to be adopting an air of denial.

At a health-care conference hosted in Budapest for the health-care ministers of China and Central Eastern European countries (ironically, Hungary has no health-care minister), Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén lauded Hungary’s achievements in the sector, adding that these are noteworthy and can serve as an example for other countries.

Speaker of the National Assembly László Kövér also spoke at the event, and likewise praised Hungary’s advances in health-care since Fidesz returned to power in 2010. According to Kövér, Hungary has made huge advancements in medical education, production of pharmaceuticals, epidemiology, and the preservation of natural springs.