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Despite Healthcare Being Under-staffed, Gov’t-critical Professionals Not Welcome to Volunteer

Ábrahám Vass 2021.04.01.

While the coronavirus pandemic is raging at full power in Hungary and healthcare needs all available manpower, opposition politicians and government-critical professionals who applied to volunteer are still waiting to be called up. Many of them suspect political reasons behind the situation.

The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients is still on the rise, and due to the government’s recent modification of healthcare professionals’ legal status, thousands decided to leave the sector. On March 22nd the National Hospital Directorate-General issued a call for medical students and volunteers to assist in healthcare.

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However, a number of stories broke the news recently revealing that opposition-leaning figures are apparently not so welcome. Jobbik lawmaker Lajos Rig, a qualified anesthesiologist assistant who volunteered during the first wave and currently volunteers at the ambulance services too, has handed in his application for a number of Transdanubian hospitals’ Covid departments four weeks ago. While some places turned him down pointing to enough staff or low workload, most failed to respond him at all.

He supposes politics are the underlying reason for the lack of response, arguing that hospital directors might view him as someone who would give out information. Rig said it is extremely frustrating and worrying that while medical students and even civilians are already being recruited, but a qualified professional with experience was not even worth a response.

While we have become world leaders with over 200 deaths a day, the severe shortage of professionals is claiming more and more lives, and for some, saving human lives is not the main priority, but various political reasons are.”

Former hospital director and Budapest’s 11th district’s incumbent mayor, Imre László (of leftist Democratic Coalition), also offered his help, but still didn’t get any notification, something which is “exclusively due to politics” in his view.

Former chief medical officer (and in 2014, the opposition’s Budapest mayoral candidate for a while), Ferenc Falus, also intended to offer his services. Falus, who “spent the majority of his life in the respiratory intensive care unit” did not contact the National Directorate General of Hospitals​, instead he reached out to acquaintances, but hasn’t been called in and was re-directed to the Directorate. He claimed he didn’t think this would have any political implications until he was “heavily” confronted with similar news. According to his information, health analyst and expert (who often forms gov’t-critical opinions in healthcare matters), Zsombor Kunetz, and Medical Chamber (MOK) president Gyula Kincses were similarly overlooked.

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Meanwhile, Gödöllő’s independent but opposition-backed mayor might serve as a counterexample. György Gémesi reached out directly to the Kistarcsa hospital’s leadership (bypassing state bodies), and has begun volunteering this week.

featured image illustration via MTI/kormany.hu/Károly Árvai