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Out-of-patience Doctors Show Red Card to Government

Fanni Kaszás 2019.09.23.

The Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) held its much-anticipated Assembly this past Saturday at the Vasúttörténeti Park (Railway History Park), which started off with loud whistling and shouting shortly after its opening. Doctors presented red cards and whistled and shouted during the speeches of Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Deputy State Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office and Ildikó Horváth, Secretary of State for Health. At the assembly, the Chamber, led by István Éger gave the chamber’s demands for quick wage settlements, as well as they have prepared for the coming officer renewal of the association.

At the Assembly, representatives from the Ministry of Human Resources and the Prime Minister’s Office publicly discussed health issues with the Hungarian Medical Chamber. Although representatives from the Ministry of Finance were also invited, they did not participate. Hundreds of doctors attended the meeting to discuss the problems of the healthcare system in Hungary, and were given a red and white card to react to the issues raised.

According to the 24.hu, Secretary of State for Health and former doctor Ildikó Horváth, first told anecdotes about her life, then continued talking about human-centered health care, but the doctors presented red cards to her and even shouted and whistled through her speech. Although Horváth wanted to talk about the European Union’s development programs as well, the doctors vetoed the presentation of the data.

The State Secretary concluded her speech by saying “I think I’ll stop here now,” which, according to 24.hu received a burst of applause from members of the MOK.

photo: MOK Facebook

Following the incident, Deputy Secretary of State of the Prime Minister’s Office, Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky spoke about the wage increase. He also received a red card from the majority of doctors and when he started to talk about the budget of health care, members laughed at him.

The president of the Hungarian Medical Chamber, István Éger, said that they did not gather on Saturday from impulse or to show their dissatisfaction, but

the event was a public outcry out of their helplessness against the exploitation and unbridled abuse of their vocation.

Éger added that before the meeting, he sent a list of problems and issues that need to be solved within the healthcare system to the ministries. In the letter, they asked for examples for a regulatory, uniform 900,000 forints initial minimum salary for specialists in public healthcare by 2022; the salary of residents should reach 500,000 forints, while retirees should receive 1.7 million. They also asked for the end of discrimination against retirees, and the control of minimum professional standards, as they believe the current situation is “a scam and is in serious violation of the safety of patients.” Éger said there was no agreement or promise at the event on any of the issues raised.

photo: MOK Facebook

Back in April, Éger talked to government-critical weekly Magyar Hang positively about the issues. He said in an interview that as a result of their talks with the government, an immediate increase in medical salaries is under way, creating the basis for ending the habit of giving gratitude money. However, when the economic action plan was announced on May 31st, it was revealed that the earliest the doctors’ salary could be settled is in the 2021 budget. Meanwhile, one of the main reasons why Hungary is struggling with its public health care system is losing doctors due to low wages.

At the end of November, the Hungarian Medical Chamber will renew its officers, and the delegates will vote on the president and the presidency of the organization. The assembly held on Saturday is therefore the start of a chamber election campaign, where the inside opposition of MOK, the Újratervezés (Redesign) handed out flyers of their programme, including the establishment of a Ministry of Health, an increase in health expenditure as a proportion of GDP, significant increase in salaries, the abolition of gratitude money, and the setting up of an expert team to oversee the issues of healthcare.

featured photo: MOK Facebook