Hungarian hospitals are once again postponing elective surgeries, according to a recent letter from the director-general of Hungary’s hospital manager sent to the heads of central hospitals. Although the government has not yet made an official announcement on the matter, previously saying only that a similar decision might soon become necessary, the news comes as no surprise given Hungary’s rapidly worsening epidemiological data.
Those who have already been hospitalized will be undergoing surgery, but those who have not yet been admitted and can be postponed will have their operations canceled, Népszava reports, based on a letter sent by Péter Takács, deputy director-general of Hungary’s national hospital manager (OKFŐ) to the heads of central hospitals.
According to the leftist daily, in his letter, Takács asks hospitals that “empathetic colleagues with the necessary routine and the right tone of voice should be the ones to deal with the cancellations.”
Takács sent out the letter on Sunday, which is rather odd as the government has not made any clear official announcement about this plan. Only one announcement was made on Tuesday, two days after the letter from the hospital director, which suggested that the cancellation of elective surgery could begin soon.
“Due to the increase in the number of Covid patients, the number of beds necessary for their treatment must be increased again, similar to the prior coronavirus waves. In order to protect patients and reduce the burden on the health system, some hospitals may again need to postpone operations,” wrote the government’s official coronavirus information website yesterday.
The possible postponement of elective surgeries was not even a separate news piece, but a single sentence in Hungary’s latest official daily covid report. No further details were provided, including which hospitals as well as which operations will be affected.
However, in his letter, Takács wrote that 20 percent of the beds in the institutions should be made available with every tenth also being suitable for ventilation and intensive care. The freeing up of beds represents a 67 percent increase over the current covid care capacity, with the number of intensive care beds to be expanded by 44 percent. In the letter, Takács specifies how many beds are needed to be free in each county.
Over the last few weeks, the Hungarian epidemiological figures have deteriorated rapidly, so it was expected that the postponement of operations might become necessary again.
In the past 24 hours, 308 people have been hospitalized with coronavirus infection, and 463 are currently on ventilators. A week ago, the latter number was 350. The number of hospitalized covid patients has increased by 1,658 within a single week.
The last time elective surgery had to be postponed was during previous covid waves. According to news site Portfolio, the situation could be even worse than it previously seemed. In fact, the healthcare system may be reaching the limits of its capacity. If the use of intensive care and ventilator beds increases at the current rate, the Hungarian health system could reach its critical limit in a few weeks.
In an interview, Norbert Miklós Wikonkál, general director of Budapest’s Honvéd Hospital, said that rising infection rates indicate that the fourth wave of the epidemic could be even stronger than the third. And the data received so far also indicates that the epidemic is indeed as serious as the general director said: 8,434 patients have been infected today, and 98 patients have died in a single day.
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