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Coronavirus: Nearly 20,000 Patients Sent Home from Hospitals in a Month during the First Wave

Fanni Kaszás 2020.10.19.

Independent MP Bernadett Szél filed a lawsuit against the National Health Insurance Fund Manager (NEAK) because the organization did not disclose the daily occupancy data of hospitals, which could have revealed the exact number and pace of bed releases of each hospital back in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. NEAK recommended a settlement and stated that it would release the data if Szél withdraws from the lawsuit. The data shows that almost 20,000 beds were emptied back in the spring in just a month.

Back in April, the government had set the goal of emptying a total of 36,000 hospital beds in preparation for the worst-case coronavirus epidemic scenario expected. Hospitals suddenly began freeing up hospital beds with the goal of making 60% of their capacity available in two phases by April 15. Reportedly, this resulted in hospitals – often unexpectedly – dismissing patients who suffer from chronic diseases or are in a helpless state, by the instruction of the Ministry of Human Resources and Minister Miklós Kásler, dated 7 April.

Coronavirus: Human Minister Kásler Denies Being Responsible for 'Freeing Up' Thousands of Hospital Beds
Coronavirus: Human Minister Kásler Denies Being Responsible for 'Freeing Up' Thousands of Hospital Beds

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 […]Continue reading

This caused difficult situations for patients and relatives of those discharged from hospitals. Later, information from the government revealed that bed occupancy fell only by an average of 2 per cent as many beds were already empty. They also denied press reports on dismissing patients in need of hospital care.

Opposition Politician Claims at Least 16,000 Patients Were Sent Home Amid Hospital Evacuations
Opposition Politician Claims at Least 16,000 Patients Were Sent Home Amid Hospital Evacuations

The National Health Insurance Fund Manager published the April data on inpatient hospital care on their website. Independent MP Bernadett Szél posted on her Facebook page that from this data, “we can count how many people could have been sent home from the hospitals, as the data shows not only the number of hospital beds, […]Continue reading

Szél filed a lawsuit against the National Health Insurance Fund Manager (NEAK) because the organization did not disclose to her the daily occupancy data of the hospitals, which would have revealed the number of emptied beds as well. In the end, NEAK offered her a settlement and stated that it would disclose the data of the hospital bed releases if Szél drops the lawsuit.  Bernadett Szél announced on her Facebook page that she finally obtained the data of the hospital bed releases in the spring. According to the MP, there were hospitals that were actually emptied in a one month period.

Újabb eredményt értünk el: megígértem, hogy nem hagyom annyiban, pontosan mi történt az “ágyfelszabadítás” kapcsán az…

Posted by Szél Bernadett on Friday, 16 October 2020

According to Szél, in contrast to what the government communicated earlier, on March 30, two-thirds of chronic wards had less than 58 percent of beds free, and one-fifth had 80 percent or higher occupancy. So in many places, it was not 2 percent of beds that had to be vacated after March 30 at all, but much more. Between April 7 and 19, the date of the extended deadline for the releases, 2,852 beds were vacated, 94 percent of which were in chronic inpatient care. Between March 14 and April 19, a total of 19,165 beds became available in virtually one month, the MP wrote.

In early September, hospitals were once again instructed by Human Resources Minister Miklós Kásler to keep 20 percent of their beds empty for coronavirus patients, instead of the previous 10 percent amid resurgence of COVID-19.

Hospitals Instructed to Reserve More Beds Amid Resurgence of Covid-19
Hospitals Instructed to Reserve More Beds Amid Resurgence of Covid-19

Human Resources Minister Miklós Kásler has instructed hospitals to keep 20 percent of their beds empty for coronavirus patients, instead of the previous 10 percent. He also forbade hospitals from sending patients home. In a letter, the Minister of Human Resources instructed hospitals to provide additional empty beds for patients infected with the coronavirus, leftist […]Continue reading

In this letter, Kásler instructed hospitals to provide additional empty beds for patients infected with the coronavirus, leftist daily Népszava reported. However, an important point of the instruction is that now, unlike during the Spring wave, the implementation of the measures should not result in the release of patients from the institutions.

A full list of hospital bed releases can be found here.

featured photo: illustration (Csaba Bús/MTI)