Photo: MTI

Doctors' chamber hails agreement with government as 'historic step'

Doctors to receive ‘unprecedented’ wage hike, gratuities to be ‘phased out’

Hungary's government and the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors (MOK) have agreed to raise doctors' wages by an "unprecedented" rate, and to "phase out" gratuity payments, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Facebook.

In a video posted after a meeting between government members and MOK representatives, Orbán said the government had accepted the chamber’s proposal regarding the wage increase, and will submit a bill to parliament on Monday.

The meeting focused on the coronavirus pandemic, Orbán said. “It is clear that the pandemic is on the rise and the trend will remain so until a vaccine is at hand,” he said. Last week’s Brussels summit made it clear that a vaccine cannot be expected before mid-2021, he added.

Hospitals will be under enormous pressure in the coming 7 to 8 months, Orbán said. Doctors and nurses will need to work beyond their strength to heal and ensure adequate care to all those infected, he said.

The government agreed with MOK that such an effort will be impossible to maintain without a wage hike, Orbán said.

“We need to stand together, and achieve a breakthrough in improving doctors’ wages,” the PM said.

Meanwhile, MOK and the government have agreed to “phase out” gratuity payments from the Hungarian health-care system, Orbán added.

Historic step: doctors’ chamber

The Hungarian Chamber of Doctors (MOK) called its agreement with the government on substantially raising doctors’ wages a “historic step”, saying that it laid the groundwork for “competent work free of gratuity payments”.

MOK head Gyula Kincses told an online press conference that under the agreement, resident physicians would earn between 700,000 and 800,000 forints (EUR 1,900-2,200) a month, and salaries for experienced doctors before retirement would come to 2.4 million forints.

Such wages are also expected to stop doctors’ emigration from Hungary, Kincses said.

Speaking after talks with Orbán, Kincses welcomed that the government had accepted the chamber’s proposal regarding salaries, and said that adequate wages were the starting point of addressing the problems of the Hungarian health-care system.

Kincses said doctors are expected to receive about 65-70 percent of the raise starting January 1, 2021, and the full salary increase will be completed by 2022 or no later than January, 2023.

At the same time, offering and accepting gratuity payments from patients will become punishable by law, Kincses said.

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