Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced last Friday that nurses’ salaries would increase by 21 percent from January 2022. All of this is part of a four-step wage increase program that began back in July 2019.
The wage increase affects more than 85,000 health professionals working in state, municipal or church-run outpatient or inpatient care facilities or in primary care, such as clinics, hospitals, nursing services, the National Blood Service or the National Ambulance Service.
In response to Friday’s announcement, Zoltán Balogh, president of the Hungarian Chamber of Health Care Professionals (MESZK), told our newspaper that the wage agreement reached in 2018 includes a thirty percent increase, so it is possible that there are 21 percent of professionals who are disappointed.
“The explanation for the misunderstanding is that Emmi took the salary for the base year 2018 as the basis for the increase. It is capable of truly thirty percent next year’s growth rate. At the same time, we can talk about a 21 percent increase compared to the current wage classification.
Wage increases are, of course, welcome, but we feel that there will be little to solve systemic problems.
The reason for this is that the starting employee salary close to next year’s guaranteed minimum wage, ie the gross HUF 308 thousand is still not an attractive offer for a career starter, ”Zoltán Balogh told Index, adding that the personal income tax exemption could be , but it may even be the case that, for example, a professional with 16 to 19 years of work experience will earn less than a career starter. The president of MESZK believes that this example is a good illustration of how much the years-long wage settlement actually represents a leap for health professionals.
He mentioned as another problem that the scissors between medical and nursing wages are becoming more and more open, the latter falling disproportionately, although the burden is constantly increasing in their case as well.
Next year, professionals will only earn one-fifth of what a doctor is looking for. The background to this phenomenon is that medical wage increases will continue to be significant in the coming years. On the other hand, in addition to the January wage increase, it is not possible to guess whether the government is planning other measures, although a number of other steps could be used to improve the current situation.
Said Zoltán Balogh.
Immediately, the first request failed
The chamber recently prepared a five-point package of proposals, which was also sent in a letter to Zoltán Jenei, Director General of the National Hospital. The first of the requests failed last Friday. The package looks like this:
- Wage development
Advance 21 January 2022 wage growth to 1 November 2021.
This move would no longer put a significant burden on the 2021 budget, but at the same time it would have a message value to professionals, they would feel recognized for their work and their performance during the pandemic. Since then, it has been known that the wage increase was not brought forward, leaving the original date early next year.
- Introduction of a special supplement system
Introduce a system of allowances for health professionals, taking into account time spent on the field, level of education and duties, which has already been introduced for health professionals working in law enforcement agencies under the Minister of the Interior.
- Anniversary recognitions, recognition of service time
The Chamber proposes to supplement the transitional provisions of the Health Service Legal Relations Act in such a way as to settle the right to service recognition of those whose civil service status became a health service status on 1 March 2021 and who are entitled to a 20th anniversary of civil service status21. not acquired by 28 February.
- Introduction of cafeteria system (400,000 HUF / year)
The annual cafeteria system of four hundred thousand forints would support the recreation, recreation and mental recharge of the professionals and provide the financial background for the joint programs of the families.
- Housing assistance
Interest-free home purchase loan and state guarantee for healthcare professionals.
According to Zoltán Balogh, the above measures would be much more likely to avoid the migration of colleagues to another sector or abroad, even if the increased mental, physical and emotional strain were maintained.
Measured by international statistics and the age data of Hungarian professionals, there is currently a shortage of at least 26,000 professionals in Hungarian healthcare. There are simply not as many young people as they retire on an annual basis, and those who move abroad, change careers and leave the system for other reasons are not even included in this calculation.
– pointed out the president of MESZK, adding that in addition, in the spring, three percent of professionals did not sign the new health service status, which took a total of three thousand people out of the system. In addition, the compulsory vaccination, which finally came into effect in mid-September, also meant the departure of hundreds more colleagues.
Long waiting lists, long-delayed treatments
Doctors and nurses are past a difficult period, but the extra load is not over after the third wave of spring. In the past year and a half, while care for coronavirus patients has come to the fore, patients with other types of problems have been relegated to the background, with delayed surgeries slipping.
On the one hand, the number of patients in the Covid wards was slowly declining, and for the first time, perhaps in June, we felt that the hospitals were somewhat liberated. On the other hand, the reorganization started, the care had to be redirected to the old bed, which was a huge job. Thirdly, patients who had previously postponed screenings, treatments, surgeries due to the pandemic started
Said Zoltán Balogh.
For the reasons mentioned, some of the professionals have not been able to take their leave to this day, many have been stuck inside for several days, even from last year. In addition, the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals has increased again in recent weeks, so it cannot be ruled out that healthcare workers will face new challenges.
(Cover image: A nurse cares for a patient in the pulmonary medicine department of the National Korányi Institute of Pulmonology on February 18, 2021. Photo: Zoltán Balogh / MTI)