According to the Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK), the recently introduced increase in doctors’ salaries was of “historic significance,” but the quality and accessibility of healthcare continue to decline. The president of the MOK wrote in an open letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on behalf of the MOK that the quality of care in the system has actually deteriorated under the COVID-19 pandemic. They call on the government to consider the main problems they listed as a single entity rather than treating them individually, and that the reintroduction of an independent Ministry of Health would be a necessary condition for improving the healthcare system.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.
The MOK notes in a letter to the Hungarian Prime Minister that although in connection with the prohibition of “gratuities” in the system there has been a historic increase in the salaries of physicians, the quality of care and access to healthcare has not improved accordingly, but in many areas has even deteriorated. Unfortunately, this is also because of the COVID-19 epidemic. According to experts, this is mainly due to the lack of goals and visions, i.e. the lack of conceptualization in healthcare.
According to President Gyula Kincses, complex, program-based measures are needed if a significant improvement in the health status of the population is to be achieved. The MOK has therefore addressed ten proposals to the Hungarian Prime Minister, including the following:
- We need more highly qualified nurses. The salaries of nurses with university degrees should also be raised accordingly, in line with the salaries of physicians.
- Home care and hospice care should be better developed, and social care should be separated from healthcare, which is now an unnecessary burden on the system.
- The relationship between public/state and private care should be regulated. Experience shows that a rigid separation does not work or can even be harmful. It is the regulated interoperability of the two spheres, a controlled, transparent, and patient-oriented cooperation that is desirable.
- Adaptation of healthcare capacity to changing needs, the changing technological environment, and the structure of available human resources are also needed.
- The institutional financing system in the health sector must be changed. A quality control system should be introduced for this purpose.
- Implementation of the planned and initiated national health programs, implementation of prevention – screening – examination – treatment – rehabilitation – care.
According to the Hungarian Medical Chamber, these issues should be dealt with as one, as this is the only way to achieve radical change. Moreover, they keep asking the government to reintroduce the independent Ministry of Health, which used to be merged with education, church affairs, sports, and many other areas for some reason.
Incidentally, various press reports indicate that the current Minister of Health, Miklós Kásler, is likely to leave the new government. The oncology professor came to the ministry with a wealth of expertise, but has been criticized by many for the fact that the health sector has still not been sufficiently taken into account in the ministry’s work in recent years.
Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Gergely Gulyás, was asked about possible healthcare reform at his usual press conference, and stated that there will not be a separate ministry. As he said, it is good to have human-oriented affairs in a common ministry as it is now. The government wants to maintain this principle.
Featured image: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán receives Gyula Kincses, President of the Hungarian Medical Chamber, at the Carmelite Monastery on October 3, 2020. On the left is Péter Zoltán Álmos, Vice President of the Hungarian Medical Chamber. Photo by Benko Vivien Cher/MTI/Prime Minister’s Press Office