Are you sure?

Health system restructuring may not require significant additional funding, state secretary says

A planned restructuring of Hungary's healthcare system may not require any significant additional funding, state secretary responsible for healthcare Miklós Szócska said, announcing a healthcare reform plan approved by the government on Tuesday.

The reform plan, dubbed the Semmelweis Plan, foresees a restructuring of Hungary's healthcare system based on large regions containing about 1 million to 1.6 million inhabitants, with a focus on outpatient and primary care, the state secretary told journalists on Wednesday. Currently local-council-owned hospitals in Budapest will be transferred to state ownership as part of the plan.

There are reserves in the system, Szócska said about the funding requirement of the restructuring. Joint public procurement alone could save up to HUF 20 billion a year, he said. HUF 60 billion-70 billion could b mobilised for infrastructure developments in the next two years, and projects worth around HUF 100 billion, using European Union support, are underway, he said.

The capital necessary for the healthcare development of the central region would come from the sale of vacant properties formerly used as hospitals or becoming vacant as part of the restructuring.

The takeover of the Budapest hospitals by the central government from the city municipality could take 6-9 months, Szócska said.

In Budapest three emergency care centres will be organised.

The City government welcomed the decision to take over 12 Budapest hospitals by the state in a statement on Wednesday. The City is ready to start talks on the transfer at the earliest date, the statement said, adding that consultations on the matter have been underway.

The country will be divided into healthcare regions to ensure optimal routes for patients to health-care service providers, said Szócska. The plan tentatively involves setting up eight healthcare regions.

He said a final approval of the healthcare plans was expected in the autumn to allow the new system to be introduced next year.

Miklós Réthelyi, the national resources minister, said at the press conference that the health system must be saved from collapse. The current focus of the system should be shifted from hospital care, and outpatient care and family physicians should be given much more weight. Health care should focus both on patient care and on prevention, with the latter being interconnected with education, culture and sports, he added.