Under-the-table payments, misuse of immunity cards: here are some astonishing stories the police encountered in the healthcare sector this past year.
According to the National Protective Service (NPS), there were 42 cases of either filing police reports or investigating against healthcare workers for various corruption cases and other crimes. The police carried out investigations in a wide range of medical fields, from rheumatology to gynaecology, sports medicine and psychiatry.
Népszava interviewed Police Colonel Piroska Váradi, head of the Corruption Prevention Department of the National Protective Service. This department is responsible for monitoring the ban on under-the-table payments. She shared that one rheumatology doctor put up posters confirming his refusal of under-the-table payments between two appointments. However, as soon as his appointments started, he had them removed quickly.
There were also cases of doctors using nurses to collect under-the-table payments to keep elderly patients in hospital. Another shocking occurrence was when healthcare workers helped patients obtain fake immunity cards.
Váradi informed Népszava that this last instance is truly more than a “simple” corruption offence. In cases like this, forgery and misuse of official documents also apply.
“Committing intentional offences has consequences under labour law as well as criminal law. The person’s employment is terminated immediately. Apart from that, they cannot find a job in the public sector until the statutory period of time has elapsed. This time is, in most cases, several years.”
This means that if someone is caught, there is no chance of committing the same crime again.
Now, there is a lot to say about the misuse of immunity certificates when it comes to crimes in the healthcare sector. Váradi said that there was a chief psychiatrist who helped prisoners delay serving their sentences.
“He gave certificates to convicted people so that they would not have to go to prison to serve their sentences.”
He received HUF 300,000 (EUR 813) for this. In addition to accepting the money offered, he also informed the negotiator what kind of certificate he would issue. Reports say he has done this before.
Váradi shared that they receive reports from numerous sources, even from private persons.
“I am personally contacted by many people. The green number and office contact details of the NPS are public. We receive a lot of complaints from citizens and healthcare workers alike.”
Her colleagues then look into the cases. They carry out risk analyses on an ongoing basis and try to filter out the circumstances where there is the greatest chance of corruption.
Since March 2021, the NPS has also been testing healthcare workers with reliability tests. In the generated artificial situation, a negotiator plays the role of the patient who tries to bribe the doctor under investigation. The police then look to see if the person accepts the bribe, i.e. whether they are abusing their official position.
Source: Népszava, Blikk