The wage increase of doctors that was announced on Saturday and already accepted in Parliament on Tuesday caused serious surprise in Hungary. While this is undoubtedly a significant increase of the low payments in the healthcare sector, it is also crystal clear that the government is imposing very serious conditions for doctors to get it. Doctors will only be able to take a second job in private clinics if they have a special permit and can be directed to another hospital or even another city twice a year.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Saturday that the government had accepted the Hungarian Medical Chamber’s proposal to increase doctors’ wages. The draft detailing the agreement was submitted to parliament at a record pace on Monday, passing unanimously the very next day.
However, after reviewing the legislation, it seems clear that even though doctors will indeed receive a significant salary increase, at the same time the Orbán government will bind it to serious conditions, badly affecting many doctors.
From now on, doctors who want a wage increase have to sign a new contract with the government. As a result, they will lose their civil service status with the introduction of a new special one called ‘health service relations.’ Those who don’t sign the papers will lose their right to work in public hospitals and specialist clinics and will be fired on January 1, 2021.
Another condition is that doctors will only be able to work in multiple hospitals if their employer is the same in all places. Additionally, healthcare professionals will only be able to pursue other professions or have private practices if they get permission from the government’s designated body.
To eliminate a common practice of some doctors in Hungary in which they first accept their patients in their private practice just to administer to them in the public hospital, the same patient with the same illness cannot go to the same doctor in private and public care. Also, the managers of Hungary’s public hospitals can no longer establish private clinics.
If someone moves from one public institution to another, their salary will be frozen for one year. This way the government wants to prevent tense wage wars between the healthcare institutions and also collective redundancies, since in the future, the employers of doctors can deviate from the newly accepted pay scale upwards of 20%.
Healthcare workers can be sent to another provider for 1 + 1 years, the fact of which must be announced by the employer only ten days in advance. Additionally, they can be directed to another hospital or even another city twice a year.
The legislation also threatens doctors with a one-year prison sentence for accepting and giving gratitude money for both the doctor and the patient as well.
Featured photo illustration by Károly Árvai/kormany.hu