cancer patients waiting in narrow hallway
Photo: Index

Because of disorganisation, the lack of information and the absence of clear rules, there are horrible conditions at the National Oncological Institute. Patients awaiting chemotherapy queue in a narrow hallway from 5 AM, so they can get a waiting ticket at 7 AM for that day’s examinations. The patients decided to take matters into their own hands; they distributed home-made waiting tickets.

The patients kept pouring in in the early morning hours, they could only sit down on the steps of the stairs, despite them being in pain, or hand to stand for hours and hours. At 6 AM there were already 25 people waiting in line, but according to them, there have been instances when twice as many were there, reported Index. One of the patients said: “Patients are on the edge of fainting, standing like herrings.”

Although in the waiting room of the “B” Medical-Oncological and Clinical Pharmacologic Department there are seats, they only let patients in there after 7 AM, until then the door is locked. Patients get their waiting ticket in front of the doctors’ offices. Then they can register to the hospital’s system with their social security number at 7:30 AM, they get their lab results and can go to examination with their waiting ticket numbers. This is where they determine if more chemotherapy is needed. Consultation hours only last until 3 PM, if someone gets there late, they have no chance of getting treated that day.

“There should be a d*mn serial number machine; they would be the solution!” An older man in the hallway said, and everyone else seemed to agree. Another patient thinks that sitting on the stairs could be solved if cleaning was done earlier, or after 3 PM, so they could wait in the waiting room.

According to sources, circumstances have been like this for a year now.

As the hospital does not provide proper conditions, does not lead the patients, does not have a serial number machine, or a system that is clear for everyone, patients have been left to try and solve the situation on their own.

  • On a regular day, people start queuing at 5 AM in the hallway.
  • Here, a patient, who has been going there for a long time, starts handing out hand-made waiting ticket numbers, these serve to be exchanged for actual serial numbers later. There was a conflict because of the home-made tickets, as a patient who arrived later complained that they are not official.
  • The waiting room is only opened at 7 AM, until then, it is supposedly being cleaned. At 7 AM, patients swarm the waiting room, to get a new serial number from the ones placed in front of the consultation rooms. Older patients also know that there is no number 2 because the ticket with that number on has gone missing from the official figures.
  • Once they have their numbers, they head to the patient registration counter. They register here with their social security number, then go back to the waiting room. From then on, they are supposedly called in by the waiting ticket’s number.

On Wednesday, there was a plot twist; the system had been changed, without anyone knowing. Patients were surprised to find no waiting tickets in their usual place. There were about 40-50 unsure patients waiting, not having a single clue what would happen. Eventually, they found out that every patient has to start by registering, and they would then get a number.

The hospital made no effort to let the patients know beforehand, they did not write it on the door, and no one went up to them to explain the new system.

The patients found out after half an hour of waiting, feeling helpless and hearing many, different rumours.

And those who were only just arriving knew even less, and it was only 7:30 in the morning.

A doctor confirmed that the system had been changed because many serial numbers had been taken or gone missing. Some patients were happy about the new system, while others were angry about getting up and going there early in the morning for nothing.

Health-care facilities are understaffed in Hungary, read more HERE.


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