In late 2018, Zsolt Orosvári had to take his daughter to the hospital. She was kept in overnight, so her father had a chance to look around at the children’s ward. He found that mothers had to sleep on the floor next to their children’s bed.
This is what he found.
One mother he met had spent two weeks sleeping on the floor next to her 6-month-old. Another had her face burnt by a hot radiator pipe in her sleep. Some of them lived 30-40 km away, but there weren’t even showers or clean bathrooms available for them.
An average headline in Orbán’s media would be “The heating of hospitals is too good for whining liberalbolsheviks” – except they are not writing about this at all. So Mr Orosvári wrote an angry and passionate public letter addressed to the Ministry of Human Resources and started a crowdfunding campaign for something as simple as fold-up beds for children’s hospitals.
At first, the ministry even refused to answer – then they sent a spreadsheet with the number of beds needed in each hospital. At this point it is hard to say if we should be grateful for their “help” or infuriated by the nonchalance with which they let the shortchanged citizens buy the beds themselves from their taxed income.
By February 2019, over 11 thousand euros had been collected, buying over 300 fold-up beds for children’s hospitals all over the country. Decathlon gave a discount and Mr Orosvári is now petitioning to reclaim the 27% VAT of the purchases to buy a hundred more beds.
This is the situation after the upgrade (images from his Facebook group, managing the distribution):
On top of beds, Mr Orosvári reminds us, hospitals need towels, thermometers, gauze, pretty much everything – not to mention expensive diagnostic devices volunteers couldn’t even begin to cover.
There were hospitals, however, that were reluctant to accept donations. Not because they were well-supplied, but because of fear of retribution – or to express loyalty to the regime.
Mr Orosvári is not the only hero who wants to do the little he can for hospitals. Another crowdfunding campaign was dedicated to get children’s wards painted – initiated by a painter. Another was started by a repairman who collected old TV sets and fixed them to donate to hospitals.
All such efforts are important and commendable – but they are dwarfed by the Orbán-government’s prestige spending, even on hospitals. Just not in Hungary.
For context, since this volunteer has been fighting for 11 thousand euros (December 2108), Orbán sent 5 millions to supposedly build a hospital in Syria, pledged to finance the operation of three other Syrian hospitals for a year for 1.7 million euros, and announced to build an oncology hospital in Vietnam for 60 million euros.
A minimal wage increase for healthcare workers would cost approximately 100 million euros, less than the government spent on its “Hungary is performing better!” campaign last year. To bring Hungarian hospitals up to the regional average, approximately 2 billion euros would be necessary.
In the meantime, the Orbán-regime spent 1.1 billion euros on stadiums (conservative estimate) between 2010-20 – from the same pocket – and allowed 4.9 billion euros of corporate income tax to go straight to sport clubs (mostly football) between 2011-18. They stubbornly insist on calling the latter “private money” in front of foreigners.
Never mind an MRI, fold-up beds could be bought for a few thousand – or maybe a few hundred thousand if it has to go through public procurement.