Vascular surgeon Lajos Kollár, advisor to human resources minister Kásler, spoke about the effectiveness of the Orbán government’s measures of handling the novel coronavirus epidemic and the possible steps of transforming the healthcare system, in an interview with pro-government commercial broadcaster Hírtv.
Kollár thinks it is too early to talk about a possible second wave of Covid-19 and we are still facing the first one, noting that “we should only talk about things we have evidence about.”
Reflecting on the recent worrisome increase of active Covid-19 cases in neighboring countries, the vascular surgeon said that he believed the “first wave is still producing such small spikes, sporadic jumps. We can witness this in the surrounding countries and unfortunately in Hungary as well.”
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All in all, he thinks that the government handled the epidemic rather well as Hungary was among the first in Europe that had introduced safety measures.
The issue of hospital beds
Lajos Kollár talked about the heavily debated subject of hospital beds as well.
Many condemned the government’s decision in April to empty almost 60% of hospital beds to create a reserve for possible high numbers of coronavirus patients. The opposition called it absurd, while stories about terminally ill patients in great need of hospital treatment who had been sent home, started circulating in the news.
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According to Kollár, the general occupancy rate of hospital beds is not very good in Hungary- slightly more than a third of them were empty before the virus.
In addition, first only 20% were vacated, leaving 54% of empty beds. This means that achieving the initial goal of 60% only required a further 6% of patients to be sent home.
At the same time, the expert stressed that the ministerial decree also stipulated that no patients whose treatment was not possible at home – leading to the patient’s worsening condition or possible death – should be discharged.
Such a large number of beds being unused in Hungary is a waste, Kollár emphasized, adding that this is why the government is preparing for the transformation of healthcare.
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Important changes to the healthcare system
It should be the general practitioners who primarily care for the majority of patients, just like in Western Europe. If patients need a specialist, they should be sent to an outpatient clinic where all imaging services are available. By applying this method, all patients could be treated at specialist clinics, except for those who need constant monitoring and intervention.
Instead of closing hospitals, it should be the number of available beds that are revised. These capacities could be used in rehabilitation, and care for the chronically ill and the elderly, the health expert explained.
He later said that one of the barriers to transforming the hospital system is para-solvency, the illegal practice of doctors accepting tips for treatments.
This must be eliminated with adequate wages and legal enforcement, he said. The advisor also spoke about the need to order mandatory screenings for common diseases in the future. Those who refuse to participate should pay more social insurance.
Featured photo illustration by Károly Árvai/kormany.hu