The Hungarian National Assembly has adopted a legislative amendment concerning the medical chamber with 122 votes in favour, 31 against, and no abstentions. It proposes the abolition of mandatory chamber membership and transfers the right to enforce the code of ethics to a new body.
During the debate on the law on professional chambers operating in healthcare and other related legislation, taking place in an extraordinary session, State Secretary Péter Takács stated that by obstructing the new on-call system, the chamber endangers the healthcare of Hungarian citizens, violates the fundamental rules of its democratic and public nature, and disregards its own objectives.
He emphasised that the government prioritises the interests of patients above all else and cannot idly stand by while the Hungarian Medical Chamber (MOK) is abusing its power over membership and endangering the citizens’ constitutional right to healthcare. According to the State Secretary, it evokes ‘the darkest communist times’ that the chamber openly threatens those doctors who do not share their president’s opinion and would participate in territorial on-call service.
The legislation transfers the right to adjudicate ongoing and future ethical proceedings to the Health Science Council, which will also create the new ethical code, approved by the Minister of Health. In the future, the chamber will only have the right to opine on the ethical code.
The Minister in charge of healthcare and higher education will appoint the body responsible for the certification and evaluation of further training. The MOK will only provide non-biding recommendations on the appointment of these positions. The law will come into force the day after its promulgation.
The Hungarian government attacked the entire Hungarian medical community when, as part of an extremely discriminatory process, it curtailed the powers of the medical chamber, according to a statement by the Hungarian Doctors’ Trade Union (MOSZ).
They believe that the decision does not serve societal interests and that disagreements should be resolved through dialogue.
‘In the current desperate state of healthcare, there is a huge need for dialogue between the profession and health policy, and its interruption may have serious social consequences,’ they write. They are also concerned that the decision, which was not preceded by any public consultation, may worsen the country’s negotiating position regarding the accessing of EU funds, further complicating ‘urgent salary increases for healthcare workers.’ MOSZ also ask all doctors to remain chamber members.