Hungary gives doctors pay raise to stop exodus

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Hungary's government announced Thursday, June 9, a pay rise of 40% for doctors and pharmacists over two years in an effort to stem the exodus of medical staff, in particular to Britain.

They will be paid between 50,000 and 107,000 forints (160-345 euros, $180-390) extra per month from later this year and a similar amount from 2017, Health Minister Zoltan Balog said.

Other staff in the central European country's public health sector will get 30,000 forints or 25% more each month and will see their pay "double" by 2019, Balog said.

"To the 100,000 employees in the health sector the main message is that we are counting on you," Balog said, adding that the 100-billion-forint (320-million-euro) cost has already been budgeted for over the two years.

Healthcare in the ex-communist EU member state has been under strain for years, in particular because many staff have left for Western Europe where they can earn much higher salaries.

According to the opposition Socialist Party, around 1,800 Hungarian doctors work in Britain alone, while the number of Hungarian nurses there is reported to be 2 or 3 times higher.

Istvan Eger, president of Hungary's medical professionals association, called the agreement with the government "the result of lots of hard work, at the end of which all sides can be happy." –