Today, on the day of the celebration of Hungarian healthcare, the traumatology department of the hospital in Orosháza will be closed for an indefinite period of time, announced Dr. Zoltán Szelényi, who has been in charge of the department for the past ten years, at an online press conference held together with MEP István Ujhelyi on the occasion of Semmelweis Day.
The surgeon-general pointed out that Hungary spends very little on healthcare, even by regional standards, because although the state’s expenditure as a proportion of the GDP has indeed increased in the last two years, this was actually due to the cleverly accounted purchase of epidemiological equipment, rather than massive developments. Dr Szelényi said the government should clearly increase public spending on the health sector, bringing it closer to the European average.
As a first step, they are calling for the government to spend seven per cent of GDP on health, which, although already a substantial increase, would still be below neighbouring countries, where some governments are going above nine per cent or more. The chief physician added that they also called for the rapid development and introduction of quality assurance requirements linked to the European Health Union in Hungary; and thirdly, they called the current government to account for transparency and credibility, noting that, in the case of epidemiological data, public institutions were not sharing data of public interest with the public at all or only to a limited extent.
Szelényi said that health workers are waiting for reform-like changes, but that the government is going backwards with its restructuring of the sector, such as the abolition of the health insurance fund or the independent epidemiological authority.
István Ujhelyi, a Socialist MEP who is also a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Public Health, said at the press conference that this year’s Semmelweis Day could not be a real holiday for health workers either. According to the MSZP MEP, the health sector is the most serious crisis sector in Hungarian governance, which is why earlier statements by Interior Minister Sándor Pintér responsible for the sector, such as the one claiming “he cannot promise anything, but at least he can keep his that” are not acceptable. Ujhelyi announced that he has initiated a personal meeting with Pintér, which will take place in the coming days, to discuss European issues affecting the Hungarian health sector.
“Let there be at least one area of the Hungarian government’s work where we would not be looking for enemies, but at what we can bring back from Brussels to ensure that all Hungarians have access to state-funded and quality health services.
In addition to our criticisms, we always have concrete, alternative and improving proposals, in the implementation of which we can even offer the government European cooperation, Ujhelyi said, adding that yesterday, at his initiative, a new health roundtable was established in the European Parliament in the framework of a special event, with the participation of professional interest groups of European doctors, hospitals and pharmacists, among others. Their aim is to develop a coordinated and united position in the future towards the European institutions, for example, on the implementation of the European Health Union, as mentioned earlier, which would set minimum standards for care systems in all Member States.
Budapest/Brussels – 01/07/2020