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Budapest votes against plan to privatise most hospitals

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 04 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1102
  1. Carl Kovac
  1. Budapest

    The Budapest Assembly's healthcare committee has voted unanimously against a draft proposal to privatise 11 of the 19 hospitals under the Hungarian capital's jurisdiction, claiming that the plan was not thought out completely and could put hospital care out of reach of many patients with low incomes.

    The plan called for privatising two hospitals and proposed offering non-therapeutic divisions, such as medium sized diagnostic centres, to investors. Specialist hospitals would have been transformed into public health benefit facilities. Therapeutic facilities—such as Szent László Hospital, a nationwide infectious disease centre—would have remained under the municipality's authority.

    Imre Ikvai Szabó, head of the city's Office of Health and Social Care, said the plan would be fine tuned and resubmitted.

    Explaining the vote, healthcare committee member Gyula Kis said, “First, the plan intended to sell off the profitable units of hospitals, which currently support the rest of the hospitals' operations. Secondly, in the case of full privatisation, companies buying hospitals want profits, which is possible only if the hospitals offer services for a fee, which would mean that lower income patients would not be able to afford their services.”

    Hungary's 160 hospitals, all owned by municipalities or state universities, are dependent on monthly subsidies from the National Health Care Fund Administration, which barely cover their operating expenses.

    Administration, which barely cover their operating expenses.

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