With the easing restrictions and reaching and surpassing the peak of the virus in early May, Hungary’s general healthcare services have resumed. Now, Minister of Human Resources Miklós Kásler, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and the Hungarian Medical Chamber are reflecting on the decisions made in the first phase of the fight against the coronavirus. While the PM claims that Kásler’s “merits are historic,” the chamber expects Kásler and his team to bear the consequences of their decisions, namely the evacuations of hospitals and freeing up of roughly 36,000 beds in a matter of days. At the same time, Kásler said it was the responsibility of the doctors to empty the hospital beds, not his.
As we have also reported, back in April the government had set the goal of releasing a total of 36,000 hospital beds in preparation for the worst-case coronavirus epidemic scenario expected. The hospitals suddenly began to free up hospital beds, with the goal of making 60% of their capacity available. Reportedly, this resulted in hospitals – often unexpectedly – dismissing patients who suffered from chronic diseases or in helpless states, by the instruction of the Ministry of Human Resources and Minister Miklós Kásler. This caused difficult situations for patients and relatives of those discharged from hospitals.
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Struggling to free up enough beds as ordered, Péter Cserháti, from the National Institution of Medical Rehabilitation (OORI) was fired immediately by the Human Minister. The Ministry explained his dismissal by stating that during the epidemiological state-of-emergency, Cserháti did not comply with the National Public Health Center’s instructions for the preparation of the coronavirus epidemic.
However, with the easing restrictions and reaching and surpassing the peak of the virus in early May, Hungary’s general healthcare services and surgeries have resumed, while pediatric services, midwife care, and basic dental care also resumed “due to the favorable development of the epidemic situation.”
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Last Monday, reflecting on the first phase of the fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic, Human Resources Minister Miklós Kásler hailed the ‘successful conclusion’ of the epidemic’s first phase, saying that now the country’s healthcare system can “gradually and carefully” return to its pre-epidemic routine. However, “we have to reconsider our approach to various diseases, the structure of Hungarian healthcare, as well as the role of national institutes, medical universities, and regional health centers.”
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Last week, the Prime Minister also singled out Miklós Kásler, the Minister of human resources, praising him, saying he and his team heading healthcare staff had acted promptly. Kásler, acting on his “good instinct,” set up his team “when everybody was still in a slumber” and Hungary “gained one or two weeks ahead of everyone else,” saying that the Minister’s “merits are historic.”
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However, earlier this week, Miklós Kásler posted a video on his official Facebook page in which he reacted to the claims that many non-coronavirus patients have died in the recent period after most of the hospital beds were emptied. Kásler said that it was the responsibility of the doctors to empty the hospital beds, not his, and added that it is “not me who does the millions of doctor-patient meetings, but the doctors. They have decided, it is their own responsibility.”
He also noted that he had been bound by the Hippocratic oath all his life, in the spirit of which he made his decisions and sent out the ministerial instructions, and those who did not follow them were not in accordance with their own Hippocratic oath. Kásler added that if anyone feels that they have not received the right care, they should contact the hospital’s director general, the patient rights representative, or the Ministry.
At the same time, the Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) expects Kásler and his team to bear the consequences of their decisions, namely the evacuations of hospitals and freeing up of around 36,000 beds in a matter of days. On Monday evening, the chamber released a statement stating that “on behalf of the entire medical community, we reject today’s statement by Minister Miklós Kásler, in which he blames the doctors for the professional/ethical consequences of his instructions to release patients to clear hospital beds, accusing them of violating their Hippocratic oath.”
Thus, the presidency of the MOK expects that the decision-makers and ministers, who have been authorized to serve the entire nation, will credibly assume the consequences of their decisions at all times. They added that “it is in the interest of the whole nation to have a clean, non-corrupt, patient-centered healthcare system that transparently uncovers mistakes and learns from them.”
featured photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI