All Hungarians Entitled to European Standard Healthcare!

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care-3031259_1920According to the latest global survey by Ipsos, Hungarians are most concerned about the situation of healthcare, while in the other two dozen countries surveyed, this was further down the list. In Hungary, six out of ten people are definitely worried about healthcare conditions.
Unfortunately, we do have reason to worry, as the European Health Consumer Index shows that Hungary is clearly lagging behind in the ranking of healthcare in European countries: only Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Lithuania are behind us in the list of 35 countries. However, according to government propaganda, Hungary is performing better than before. We may very well be performing better in terms of the number of footballers earning millions, as well as in the number of private castles per Fidesz relative, but when it comes to healthcare quality indicators, we are doing increasingly worse.
In anticipation of the visceral attacks in the comments from those living in the orange bubble, let us set two things straight right away: on the one hand, the organization and operation of healthcare is the exclusive competence of the Member States, so when the government seeks scapegoats, it cannot but point at itself. On the other hand, Fidesz has been governing with a constitutional majority for more than ten years, which means that it has and has had all the means at its disposal to build up a system of quality care that is accessible to all, but has not done so. The loud and frequent references to the “last eight years” are therefore cowardly, pitiful and a lie in this case.

Let’s see how the Hungarian healthcare system, currently struggling on several fronts, stands after ten years of stadium-governance. Today, more people die from nosocomial infections in Hungary than in car accidents. Since the change of government in 2010, more than 7,000 doctors have left Hungary, and according to the data of professional organizations, some 25,000 nurses are missing from the healthcare system. Fidesz’s attitude is shown by the fact that the value of health expenditures as a share of GDP has fallen to an unprecedented low; recently it was only 6.6 per cent, which is well below the EU average. Hungary has one of the highest rates of direct, out-of-pocket contributions, almost double the EU average. According to recent reports, 43% of Hungarian households, i.e. almost half of them are at least medium level burdened by medical expenses. In addition, the Hungarian government speaks with dirty hypocrisy about the state esteem of healthcare workers, while doctors in Austria earn three times and in the Netherlands nine times more, but already in Slovakia they receive double the wages they would get in Hungary. When MSZP called for the introduction of a sectoral minimum wage in healthcare, Fidesz turned its head away arrogantly; now, when the professional chamber is proposing a substantial wage increase for those fighting on the front line, they spend more on the hunting exhibition of Zsolt Semjén from the common budget. This narcissistic superiority, this filth hidden behind the national glaze is really quite astonishing.

Healthcare should be a national priority, a national security issue that needs to be addressed as one of the most important sectors, not only when a little small change is left at the bottom of the piggy bank after the distribution of diplomatic passports to football players, feeding the oligarchs and making sure there’s enough trousseau for family friends. All Hungarians are entitled to European standard healthcare, and if the Hungarian government is unwilling to provide this to people along some incomprehensible, distorted logic, we must resort to other means. It is time for European minimum quality standards in the operation of health systems, standards and frameworks that need to be provided to citizens in all European Member States. This is what I am working on, this is my program.
I am proud that the S&D Group in the European Parliament has recently announced its package on the establishment of a ‘European Health Union’, with the need for the minimum healthcare standards that I have proposed. We have a long way to go before it is fully implemented, but we have taken the first steps and paved the way for more dignified and safer healthcare. I am confident that while Fidesz refused  to do this on its own, it will at least not slow down or hinder this European program, which is also a turning point in the lives of Hungarians.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
10 May, 2020

Ujhelyi: We’re revolutionizing healthcare in Europe!

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1050x450 pxWe demand more money and more EU competences in healthcare, this is what the European Health Union program is about, said Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi at an online press conference on his social media platform.
The document on this subject was adopted on Tuesday by the S&D Group in the European Parliament (S&D), including proposals for minimum standards that the Hungarian politician has been pushing for recently. Presenting the discussion paper on the European Health Union, Ujhelyi said it was an important pillar of the comprehensive program to call on all Member State governments to carry out stress-tests on their healthcare systems. “Based on the results, we call for the creation of an EU Directive for Minimum Standards in Healthcare, which provides clear guidance for the provision of special healthcare in all regions of the EU,” explained István Ujhelyi.
MSZP’s European politician as one of creators of the program added that the package now adopted by the S&D Group also proposes the creation of a Health Response Mechanism that could effectively support the mobility of patients and healthcare workers in emergencies by strengthening existing EU protocols. The Social democrats are also calling for the strengthening of a Joint European Public Procurement Mechanism, threrby reducing price speculation and avoiding Member States competing with each other in the procurement of treatments and medical equipment.
Presenting the package of proposals containing several program points, István Ujhelyi also emphasized that during the establishment of the European Health Union, the amount of resources available for healthcare should be increased by leaps and bounds: both in the seven-year EU budget and in terms of Member State contributions. The program also calls for the closest possible coordination and integration of research and development capacities in order to tackle similar pandemic cases as effectively as possible.
István Ujhelyi said that he was proud to be a part of the health reform program of the S&D Group as a Hungarian and thus the possibility opened up of an earlier commitment he made to create minimum standard requirements in healthcare. “The S&D Group in the European Parliament is a pioneer on this issue, and we are now waiting for the other groups to join the initiative. I also trust that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will support rather than hinder this revolutionary program in the European Council,” said István Ujhelyi.
At his online press conference, the MSZP MEP said about the “Hungarian debate” on the European Parliament’s agenda for Thursday: the activities of the Orbán government clearly go against European values, and the Fidesz authorization law (Hungary’s emergency epidemic bill) gave the Hungarian head of government unprecedented and unlimited power. Ujhelyi emphasized that the EP debate was not initiated by the Hungarian opposition MPs. “My personal opinion is that these debates do not move things forward, but at least contrary to state propaganda, the  dictatorial ways the government is trying to silence those who disagree with it will be revealed and stated point blank,” he said. Ujhelyi added that if he were to decide on the issue, he would give the Minister of Justice Judit Varga a say in tomorrow’s debate, as he said, at least this way she could try and explain the excesses the government has made referring to the crisis. “By the way, Viktor Orbán had been invited to the meeting, so technically, he could hop on one of his private or government jets and go to Brussels, if he really wanted to,” added István Ujhelyi.

Budapest – 13/05/2020

Politico: Health Standards in Health Systems

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Politico_Print-01-1024x724István Ujhelyi, a Hungarian MEP and the first vice chair of the Parliament’s transport committee, began pushing an idea for a minimum health care standard in the EU at the beginning of the Parliament’s term. Now it’s one of the more controversial items that could be included in the S&D’s proposal for increasing the EU’s health competence, which the party should adopt this week. Ujhelyi described the idea to Jillian Deutsch (Politico) this weekend.

Time to give up power: By leaving health care to national capitals, “the European Union only shrugs its shoulders when it comes to the intolerable condition of the health systems of some member states, which, in a number of cases, present national security risks,” he said. “It’s time to make health a priority area for the EU and … make health care funding a national priority in the member states.”
The idea begins: Ujhelyi notes that in his native Hungary, thousands of doctors and nurses leave for wealthier European countries. Meanwhile, there are regional disparities in diseases in the EU. For example, people in the East are more likely to get the nosocomial infection (a disease contracted in hospitals) than those in the West, while those in the West are more likely to get certain diseases due a lack of vaccinations. “Just a tiny hole on our common boat is enough to let the water slowly turn it to its side and eventually sink the sailboat,” he said.
_DSC0878So what are minimum health care standards, really? Ujhelyi’s idea is that the EU would mandate minimum requirements for health care workers; create transparent, centrally-managed wait lists; and reduce out-of-pocket health payments. He also wants countries to consider a “sectoral minimum wage” and spend more on health systems. If they can’t afford to do so, the EU’s long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, could step in, he adds. He knows it’ll be a hard sell: “There will be those who will sharply protest against deeper EU regulation of health care systems,” he conceded. Ujhelyi said he already received a letter from one country’s health minister who expressed understanding for Ujhelyi’s position — but didn’t want to give up full member-state competence over health. His sales pitch: Health care problems cross borders, Ujhelyi argues. “A solid foundation is needed, a minimal guarantee that balances out the fragile systems.” The coronavirus outbreak showed the need for integrated and quality health systems; a strong workforce and infrastructure; as well as the right legal framework and the appropriate funds to make it work. “We must cross certain boundaries, certain fossilised European dogmas,” he said. “Such is the sacred cow of member state competence.”

Former Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis was joined by former Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and former Parliament President Klaus Hänsch to pen a Euractiv op-ed calling for boosting the EU’s health powers, arguing the EU’s role in coordinating health policies has “been watered down over time, often for political reasons.” The EU is “not adequately prepared” to handle health crises, as the coronavirus crisis shows — as seen with the poor coordination between countries, limited reserves of supplies and shortage of health workers. And there will be more health issues in the future, like antimicrobial resistance, they warn. Time for power: The three push for a treaty change to make this happen, so that the EU can take public health action and the Commission can have its own resources and competences in public health and handling emergencies. Moreover, the EU “should share responsibility in ‘care and cure’ in the areas of rare cancers and rare diseases while preserving subsidiarity as a core principle,” they write.”

11.05.2020.

Ujhelyi: If Orbán Fails to Join European Public Prosecutor’s Office, Brussels Should Decide on Resources for Hungary Instead!

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95873985_3388201337860695_139449384713584640_oIstván Ujhelyi convened the roundtable of opposition MEPs again. The socialist politician said that joint action was needed when negotiating the amended Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU.
The MSZP MEP therefore invited members of the European Parliament from DK, Momentum and Jobbik to an online consultation on Monday. Ujhelyi said that the President of the European Commission will present the Union’s next seven-year MFF, which has been substantially amended due to the coronavirus.
“The decisive battle over the distribution of money is starting in Brussels now: it is now that we shall decide how much the European community will spend over the next seven years and on what. It is in the interest of all Hungarians to cut the largest possible slice out of the common cake together in order to guarantee the security and development of the country,” said István Ujhelyi, adding: opposition Hungarian MEPs are working for Hungarian interests yet again, which sometimes amounts to counterbalancing the consequences of “Orbán’s ravaging.”
According to the MSZP politician, a joint opposition stand is needed in order to be able to enforce Hungary’s interests, for example, in ensuring that the resources available from the structural funds – especially cohesion and agricultural subsidies – remain available to Hungary to a significant extent. Ujhelyi added that more and more responsible European leaders are voicing the need for financial austerity against Member State governments that act against the interests and values of the community, such as the Orbán government, which pursues anti-EU policies.
“I demand a solution that does not punish the Hungarian people, but rather only the Hungarian government, for example, by taking the decision on the distribution of resources out of its dirty hands,” said the MSZP politician. István Ujhelyi suggested to the other opposition MEPs that they jointly address the European Commission and the European Council and formulate the need to establish an EU mechanism for the next seven-year budget, which would make the European Public Prosecutor’s Office a condition for the free use of funds.
“If a Member State government violates European values or treats EU money in a corrupt way, Brussels must deprive the government of its decision-making power until it gets back on the right track. Thus, not a single cent shall be lost, and Hungarian applicants continue to receive funds through a transparent and accountable system,” Ujhelyi suggested.
MSZP’s European politician added that in the next EU budget there is also a need to provide as many direct resources as possible to the regions and municipalities, thus preventing governments from favouring or even disadvantaging certain municipalities driven by political will. At the end of his press conference, Ujhelyi asked the electorate to join the MSZP’s petition initiative launched by the party to protect the people.

Budapest – 03/05/2020

Historic initiative from the S&D: “European Health Union”

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euhelath“If not now, when?” – asked Leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats European parliamentary group Iratxe Garcìa and Vice-Chair of the Group in charge of Health Heléne Fritzon in a joint statement calling for radically new European systems in the field of health.
Leaders of the S&D Group say the coronavirus pandemic has proved that it is time to create a “European Health Union”, including inter alia the introduction of minimum care quality standards set by Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi in his program on minimum healthcare service.
According to the Social Democrat Group of the European Parliament, it must be avoided that any of the Member States’ health systems become overburdened and get on the brink of collapse, and this requires new EU instruments. The S&D Group proposes that a mandatory stress test be carried out in the healthcare systems of all Member States, and that the European Commission make legislative proposals to establish certain European minimum standards based on the results.
The S&D Group has also proposed the establishment of a so-called “European Health Response Mechanism”, which would allow for immediate response to public health crises within the framework of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism.
The European politician of MSZP István Ujhelyi called it an historic breakthrough that the Social Democrats of the EP had accepted and jointly represent the health program he initiated. “Every European citizen, including all Hungarians, is entitled to quality care, and we in the European Community can no longer tolerate such extreme differences in the health systems of the Member States,” said István Ujhelyi, recalling that in recent months, he had worked with Hungarian and European professional organizations on a framework program setting out minimum quality and practical requirements to be expected of healthcare.
Ujhelyi suggested that these standards be adhered to in all Member States in the future, and that the European Union provide targeted resources to substantially reduce disparities in primary care. “It is untenable that in Hungary, for example, a patient is three and a half times more likely to get a fatal nosocomial infection than in Germany.
But it is also untenable that children in Italy are much more likely to get serious illnesses due to the shortcomings of the vaccination system there than in Hungary, a European champion in this regard. These differences need to be addressed at EU level, and my program is an attempt for this,” said István Ujhelyi.
The MSZP MEP added that the “European Health Union” program proposed by the S&D Group, including his proposal in principle for the minimum standards, was only the first, however, a very important step towards implementation. Ujhelyi emphasized that the details of the Framework Program would continue to be the subject of on-going consultation with relevant professional and non-governmental organizations, but would also involve experts from Member State governments.

Brussels – 07/05/2020