In addition to potential departures, a demonstration may soon take place due to growing discontent among healthcare professionals, chamber MESZK said in reference to their survey, arguing that while workload is high, their salaries have remained low.
Members had until June 15th to complete the poll of the Hungarian Chamber of Health Care Professionals (MESZK) which almost ten thousand eventually did (an unusually high number of people), according to president Zoltán Balogh. Some 1,623 people, about one-sixth of the respondents, claimed to have plans to leave healthcare later this year, according to the findings. Another 4,265 (42%) are still on the fence. Some 7,325 (77.8%) of respondents support MESZK in organizing a demonstration.
If the ratio of those who plan to leave the sector was projected onto full membership, healthcare could fall short of thousands of people, Balogh explained to left-wing daily Népszava. He also argued that in comparison to the number of professionals in the OECD countries, in Hungary, there already are some 20-25,000 less people working in the sector than would be required for safe patient care.
Hungarian healthcare workers had to sign a new contract by March 1st in order to continue working in public care. While the new law (and new contracts) grant a roughly 120% salary increase to doctors in Hungary in three steps, it also implements much stricter working conditions, a lower hourly wage for on-call, nights, weekend, and holiday shifts, criminalizes gratuities, and also bans second jobs.
These new conditions already led to the departure of around 3,500-5,000 professionals (3.5-4%) who refused to sign the new contract back then.
And while these new, tougher restrictions affect them too, many professionals, such as nurses or ambulance workers, haven’t received any kind of notable wage increase or even a promise of such. This is the main factor the Chamber president predominantly blames for their dissatisfaction, apart from the huge workload.
Previously, MESZK came up with a solution draft and contacted both the Interior and Human Capacities Ministry, but their requests and proposals remained unanswered. In MESZK’s view, healthcare professionals deserve more both financially and morally.
featured image illustration via Zoltán Balogh/MTI