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64 doctors against ‘gratitude money’ demand healthcare reforms

December 24th, 2015

As doctors demand higher wages to end so called ‘gratitude payments’ and stop the emigration of health care personnel from Hungary, a centrist columnist thinks that ending the system of illegal payments in hospitals is close to impossible.

In a Facebook initiative, 64 doctors are asking Hungarians to forward their petition in emails addressed to the Ministry of Human Resources.  They demand the complete overhaul of the health care system. The initiators of the project demand wage hikes to get rid of the habit of paying doctors money in envelopes. Higher wages, they believe, would also help stop the emigration of physicians from Hungary to western Europe and North America. In its reply, the Ministry of Human Resources underlined that the government has increased wages and will continue to do so in future, and at the same time is committed to improving conditions within the health care system.

Even a significant salary raise could not end gratitude payments in hospitals, Sándor Joób comments on Index. Joób admits that such payments in health care are destructive and unfair, as bribes by patients are offered mostly to surgeons and certain other specialists, but not to all doctors. The main beneficiaries of the current system, the top ranking senior doctors, have little interest in reforming the system, Joób suspects. He goes on to suggest that even if salaries tripled, patients would still try to buy better treatment by continuing to offer payments to the staff.


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