Hungary’s ailing hospitals amassed a total debt of 68.2 billion forints (EUR 220m) by the end of June, national daily Népszava reported on Monday, adding that the amount was increasing by 3-4 billion forints each month.
Out of the 68.2 billion forints total, hospitals owed 51.8 billion to suppliers, the report said.
According to the paper, unpaid bills by law courts, the police, schools or other state-financed organisations made up only 23.9 percent of the total debt of such agencies, with the health care sector liable for the larger part.
Among hospitals and outpatient clinics across the country, there were only three hospitals – one in Budapest and two in western Hungary – which were free of any debt in June, Népszava said.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition said on Monday that total hospital debt could reach 70 billion forints by the end of the year, which the party said was the amount of money needed to keep Hungary’s health care “at its current deplorable level”. They said the 70 billion forints would only be enough to ensure that the most critical surgeries can be performed.
The opposition Együtt party called on the government to immediately reallocate 120 billion forints to the health-care budget from the funds earmarked for Hungary’s preparations for hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics, the renovation of the Castle District and the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant.
The ruling Fidesz party responded saying that next year’s budget allocates 325 billion forints more towards health care than the last budget submitted by “the leftist governments”. “They [the leftist governments] cut health-care spending by 600 billion forints and ran up 125 billion forints in hospital debt,” Fidesz said in a statement.
They said the government would continue raising the wages of health-care workers next year, noting that nurses would see a 65 percent pay rise on average by 2019. The salary of doctors and pharmacists will increase by 207,000 forints by the end of next year, they noted.
The party also reiterated its support for introducing a chancellery system in the public health-care sector with a view to improving state oversight of health institutions’ finances and the quality of patient care.