Illustration - Photo: MTI

Opposition pledges changes to health care

Hungary's united opposition have vowed to increase the number of health-care employees and set up a stand-alone health ministry if they win the April 3 general election.

Zoltan Komaromi, the Democratic Coalition’s (DK) health spokesman, pledged at an online press briefing to increase spending in proportion to GDP and narrow the spending gap with the European Union average. He also pledged to increase the number of health specialists and give paediatric nurses a pay rise.

Zoltan Szelenyi of the Socialists said the united opposition would establish a stand-alone health ministry and reinstall the State Public Health and Medical Officer Service with adequate financing and strong powers.

Gabor Havasi of Momentum said 17,000 health-care workers “have been chased away from the profession just in a single year”, adding that waiting times for certain types of scheduled surgery came to months or even years. Doctors, assistants and nurses were, he added, “overburdened and exhausted”.

Fidesz said in a statement that the opposition’s health policies revolved around “paid health care, [sending patients to] India, and holistic childbirth”

The ruling party’s statement said it was clear from the period of government under Ferenc Gyurcsany how the left wing envisaged health care, namely that a left-wing government would shrink public health care, introduce fees for visits to GP surgeries and hospitals, while health-care employees would be put in a precarious situation.

The prime ministerial candidate of the united opposition, the statement added, had made clear that large swathes of the country’s health-care system would be privatised, and, further, it had been a mistake to abolish the fees for GP and hospital visits. Peter Marki-Zay, he added, had mooted the idea of shutting rural hospitals and sending Hungarians to India for eye surgery. Women, meanwhile, had been told that all they needed for childbirth would be a “holistic midwife” rather than a doctor, the statement added.

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