06 Feb 2018

No one fooled by Potemkin hospitals in Hungary 

Hospital directors are now obliged to present two positive media articles about their institutions per week. The requirement is a misguided effort to improve the image of the widely criticised health care system.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
No one fooled by Potemkin hospitals in Hungary  - NewsMavens
Health care. Wikimedia commons

Why this story matters:

Before general elections, parties and governments usually step up their campaigns. However, demanding that struggling institutions regularly make it into themedia with a feel good story is far from common. Very few governments have the guts to engage in manipulation this heavy handed, because they know it can easily backfire.

Also because convincing the public that the Hungarian health care system is in good shape will be a pretty tough sell.

People may be manipulated into thinking that George Soros, the Hungarian-American businessman and philanthropist, is personally encouraging millions of refugees to come to Europe, because Soros is absent from Hungary and has done little to defend his good name. But they will never believe that state hospitals function ideally.

Hungary is a country where women often have to wait more than 3 years for an operation to treat endometriosis. And where a rat has recently fallen from a hospital ceiling.

Unlike migration, seeking treatment is part of Hungarians' everyday lives. No amount of media coverage will change what they experience first hand.


Details from the story:

  • Several Hospital directors confirmed to Nepszava that they have been asked to regularly present two positive pieces of media coverage about their institutions to ÁEEK -- the centre that oversees the health sector. Failure to complete the task on a weekly basis will result in a warning.
  • Some added anonymously that the directive was not a surprise because they “are used to nonsense orders” from government bodies.
  • However, the AEEK denied to the state news agency (MTI) that they gave such an order.
  • One hospital director claimed that politicians from the ruling Fidesz party are common guests at his hospital these days. As part of an early election campaign they often show up “to cut ribbons or make big promises”.
  • According to the recently released 2017 report of the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI), out of 35 countries Hungary ranks 29th, together with Poland, mainly due to poor logistics and the lack of medical staff.
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