Hungarian doctors that refuse to sign new contract with the government, will most likely be fired.
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Most Hungarian doctors have refused to sign a contract with the government which will see an increase in their salary drastically, but at a cost.
Last October, the Hungarian Parliament approved a bill which will increase the salary of doctors by 120% in three steps, reaching the maximum in January 2023. The new law will limit the value of non-cash gifts from patients to doctors at 5% of the monthly’s minimum wage. The law also criminalizes bribes.
The new law is considered huge as healthcare workers in Hungary have long been underpaid, but unfortunately the increase comes with serious conditions that might ultimately negate the wage increase.
One of the points which is irking many doctors is that the new contract, which would need to be signed by March 3, or face possible removal from the job, will result in doctors losing their ‘civil service status’ and instead will be put in a new one called ‘health service relations’.
If doctors refuse to sign the new contract, they will be fired, and will not be able to work in public hospitals and specialist clinics. This, of course, endangers the functioning of the healthcare system in a period where the pandemic is still in full swing, even though vaccinations have started in the country.
The Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) said that the doctors’ main issue is that they will receive less hourly wages during night duties, on-call shifts, weekends and holidays, than during normal working hours. Many believe that this would not encourage on-call emergency work, and for most doctors, it is enough to negate the salary increase. Another issue is that doctors can not have secondary jobs.
On October, the MOK conducted a study to analyze how many doctors would refuse to sign the new contract. More than 7,700 chamber members expressed their views. The study revealed that 77% of the doctors will refuse to sign the new contract. MOK’s survey also found out that 99% of the doctors believe that the government should involve the MOK in the drafting of the regulations implementing the new law.
Doctors earn an average wage of HUF 581,327 (€1,610), including overtime. The survey revealed that 64% of the doctors refuse gratuity money. MOK also revealed that 37% of doctors have private clinics which will be affected since the secondary job restriction imposed by the new contract.
On Thursday, the Hungarian government decided to give carte blanch to the national hospital directorate regarding on-call regulations. The Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Gergely Gulyás, said that the government does not think that the current on-call regulations are important to follow, and is hoping that doctors will sign the contract.