The Hungarian Parliament passed the draft bill on a significant increase in doctors’ salaries and the abolishing of gratitude money earlier this month in a rapid manner. Since then, however, many doctors, the Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK), and trade unions voiced their concerns in connection with other parts of the bill. According to a survey by the Hungarian Chamber of Health Care Professionals, almost a third of workers may leave public health care due to the new law, while MOK has issued a statement on Sunday evening, according to which, the organization would amend the new health care law on several points.
The Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) would amend the new health care law on several points, according to a statement issued by the organization on Sunday evening. In the statement, MOK expressed its dissatisfaction with two main areas, employment different to employment contracts and conflict of interest rules. According to the organization, it is “flawed and extremely fearful” in the law that the duration of the secondment for doctors could be 1 + 1 years, instead of maximizing its duration in 100 working days per calendar year, even in the event of a health crisis.
Thus, the MOK calls for a rule that a ‘protected’ group of workers, such as pregnant mothers, single mothers, carers, and those with at least 50% damage to their health, not to be relocated unilaterally without their consent. In addition, the organization would enshrine in law the interests of transferred workers and the obligations of employers in relation to secondment, and would give an additional substantive reward to the workers transferred to other hospitals.
In connection with the conflict of interest rules, the MOK fears that, compared to the previous civil servant status, health care will be abandoned en masse due to the “lifeless” and “counterproductive” law. To avoid this, the organization recommends that the licensing body may not refuse to grant a license for an activity which is not incompatible with the operation of the health institution in question. In addition, the body should not refuse to authorize a health activity which is not carried out by the health institution employing a health care worker, and may only refuse to issue a permit in exceptional cases if the activity applied for differs from the field in which the applicant doctor carries out his work in that (public) hospital.
The medical chamber is not the only organization that warns of mass leaving of healthcare workers. After the adoption of the bill, the Hungarian Chamber of Health Care Professionals (MESZK) conducted a nationwide online survey of its members regarding the legal relationship of the health service, so that the organization formulates its proposals on this basis. More than 30,000 people completed the questionnaires. According to the survey, almost a third of workers may leave public health care due to the new law.
The vast majority of respondents (88 percent) were women. The largest proportion of workers are those who have been in the field for 26-30 years, 4692 people. Overall, more than half of the respondents have been working in healthcare for at least 20 years, but a fairly large proportion are those who have worked in the sector for less than five years. Half of the respondents came from inpatient care, 20 per cent work in outpatient care, 14 per cent in primary care and 16 in other areas.
The majority of workers, 23,328, said that they were employed forty hours a week, quite a few (2,552) volunteered to work 20 hours a week overtime, and the proportion of part-time workers (3,491) was also quite high. 33 percent of respondents, nearly ten thousand people, said they also have another job. Most of them, 48 per cent, also work a second job in healthcare, 20 per cent work in a health business, and only 22 per cent do not have their second job in the healthcare or social work sector.
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed (62.7 per cent) do not yet know whether they will establish a health service contract, when introduced. However, a significant number, a total of 31.7 per cent said they will not sign the contract, while only 5.6 per cent already know that they will sign it. MESZK also asked workers how they would demonstrate against the law, with 8,700 indicating that they would even go to a street demonstration, while 6,997 respondents said they would deposit their notice of resignation.
feature photo: Zoltán Balogh/MTI