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Hungary to Use EU Recovery Plan for Doctor’s Wage Increases

Tamás Vaski 2021.04.20.

Hungary is planning to spend 300 billion forints (831 million EUR) of the European Union Recovery Plan on increasing the wages of doctors, according to the G7. This is almost the exact amount that the National Health Insurance Fund (NEAK) expected as the financial burden of the healthcare wage increase this year.

Family doctors, dentists, and their colleagues will also be receiving wage increases from the fund, but the largest increase will go to healthcare workers.

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While 24.6 billion forints (68 million EUR) will be spent on dentists and 71.6 billion (198 million EUR) on family doctors, 197.1 billion forints (546 million EUR) will go towards doctors and nurses working in public healthcare.

These wage increases make up 18.7 percent of all of 2021’s projected expenses in healthcare.

Wages of Hungary’s Doctors to Be Closer to EU Average

These wage increase are not a one-time event. Following the contract it made with healthcare workers, the government must provide this same 300 billion forint for next year’s wage increases as well.

This amount will also increase Hungary’s GDP spending on healthcare from 6.8 in 2018 to 7.4, bringing it closer to the EU average of 9.9 percent.

In its briefing to the EU, the Hungarian government stated that large numbers of healthcare workers had left, and that without a wage increase, it cannot provide safe treatment to its citizens.

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“Due to opportunities abroad, better offers in private healthcare, the large number of people leaving their careers in public healthcare, and fewer people choosing to work in public healthcare, workforces are not adequate to ensure the safe treatment of patients.”

This statement is somewhat surprising when considering that the Hungarian government has constantly asserted that there is no shortage of workers in public healthcare.

EU Support Not Yet Confirmed

It is not guaranteed whether the European Union will pay for the wage increases of Hungarian doctors. Like every EU decision, this is a long process which needs to be discussed for months between EU member states and the European Commission, likely leading to modifications.

According to the G7, one of the biggest risks of the government’s plan is that it cannot provide Brussels with a substantive indicator to necessitate its need for wage increases, as the goal of 80 percent of health workers signing a new contract seems unconvincing.

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All final plans must be sent to the European Commission by April 30, and if an agreement is made, the union will send 13 percent of the total cost to member states. If all of Hungary’s plans are accepted, it would receive 884 billion forints (2.4 billion EUR) in EU funds immediately.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI