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.
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.
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.
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)