A survey reveals that over one-third of Hungarians have not had sufficient access to healthcare services in the spring of 2021 due to the pandemic. That is almost double the EU average.
As g7.hu reports, according to the most recent Eurofound survey, the postponement of non-essential treatments has affected Hungarians the worst out of all EU member states, where 36% of respondents said that they have had to miss a medical examination or surgery due to the lack of appointments in the past 12 months. That makes the situation only slightly better than in the summer of 2020 when
38% claimed that the pandemic had negatively affected their access to healthcare services.
The EU averages were around 20% for both rounds of the survey, while Denmark, Austria, and Germany reported the lowest figures, all of them under 15% both in the summer of 2020 and the spring of 2021. Some of the worst-performing countries alongside Hungary are Portugal and Latvia, where approximately 35% and 30% of respondents said that they had unmet healthcare needs, respectively.
While Miklós Kásler, the Minister of Human Resources, has recently given the go-ahead on non-essential treatments, as Népszava explains,
it is going to take a long time until the healthcare system can return to its pre-pandemic way of operation.
As the director of an unnamed healthcare institution told the journalists, currently, they are expected to keep vaccinating more and more individuals, sustain Covid-wards with the same capacity in case infection rates take a turn for the worse, and provide outpatient care, all while allowing their employees to take a long-overdue break.
The postponement of medical interventions and the lack of workforce have resulted in terrifyingly long waitlists for certain procedures. According to the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary (NEAK),
those who need cornea surgery could spend as much as 832 days, that is, approximately 2 years and 3 months waiting for an appointment,
while those requiring a heart valve implant or a knee prosthesis could only end up on the operating table within 558 and 512 days from the diagnosis, respectively. What is worse is that the actual waitlists could be even longer, as the data on the NEAK website are always published with a two-to-three week delay, and some people might not even have contacted their doctors yet about their health problems for fear of becoming infected.