Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

“Gratitude money” to be decriminalised

April 10th, 2015

A conservative author urges substantial pay hikes in the National Health Service instead of formally allowing physicians to take cash bonuses from patients.

In Magyar Nemzet, Melinda Farkas says a bill prepared by the Ministry of Justice decriminalising “gratitude money” carries a sad message – just like previous governments, the incumbent one also shrinks from facing the conflicts a significant pay rise for medical personnel would ignite.

Cash bonuses for doctors and nurses have been standard practice for the past sixty years in Hungary and were tacitly tolerated as the only way to compensate for the low salaries prevalent in the Health Service. The new Penal Code however, defined such payments as a breach of  the law, but the Ministry of Human Resources empowered hospital managements to authorise the receipt of such payments. Now the Justice Ministry has decided that practice was hypocritical and it would be more honest to decriminalise “gratitude money”, provided the doctors don’t request it.

Farkas argues that the cash bonuses will not be sufficient to keep doctors within Hungarian borders, while they could multiply their salaries by moving abroad. Therefore she urges an “at least one hundred per cent pay rise” instead of decriminalising cash bonuses and thereby indefinitely postponing the solution of the problem. She believes that although it would require substantial sacrifice from society, the indispensable pay rise would be feasible.