Free musculoskeletal surgery is available to all through the support of the National Health Insurance Fund.
To the person who is ill, who is suffering pain, to that person every minute to recovery counts. If the days waited seem like years, then how long might the years waited for treatment seem? In a conversation with Peter Paul Varga, MD, Director General of the National Center for Spinal Disorders, we discussed the fact that, through a very fortunate turn of events, the wait list might, for all effects and purposes, be down to zero by the end of the year. Dr. Varga proudly showed us around the center now undergoing renovation.
The news speaks of shockingly long wait lists. Is that true?
Bringing forward last year’s list, our wait list became extremely long and a wait of four years not unusual. Obviously, the government had to do something for sick benefits had to be paid, too many workdays were missed and, so forth. Thus, the National Health Insurance Fund Administration (OEP) was forced to re-evaluate the problem following capacity evaluation.
What do you mean by capacity evaluation?
The OEP awards points for in-hospital patients and outpatients, in a predetermined amount per medical specialty, awarding different points for different surgeries and multiplying these with a Forint value. The money is disbursed following accounting of the number of patients seen per month. The points vary in proportion to the seriousness of the ailment.
What significance has this increase in capacity for us, laymen, in practice?
First, of all, it means that from now on we have public financing for our entire spectrum of work. In other words, from now on, the patient will have access to all that he or she may need as far as musculoskeletal surgery is concerned. Special services will, of course, still have to be paid for, albeit, public financing will make service of a world standard possible. When we walk around, you will see that we can provide the most modern, up to date medical care and the improvements we are currently making, and must make, are to accommodate the increase in capacity. Let me mention again: what is most important is that everyone is entitled to receive the publically financed health care required for recovery.
Is the place of residence given preference or the district?
Even though we are a national institution, the district residents do enjoy preference. It is also easier for the area family doctors to refer their patients to us instead of sending them to a far off district.
How does public financing eventuate the end of the wait list?
Our capacity will grow by close to thirty percent. This means an increase in bed count making it possible for us to care for more patients and for the longest waiting period to shorten to just a few months by the end of the year. We had sixty publically financed beds up to this point, now that number is one hundred and twenty - a real “big jump”. Now we will be able to keep the patients in hospital longer, will not have to discharge them in between a succession of surgeries or send them to early rehabilitation. In order to achieve this, we had to, of course, make improvements. We created a new patient ward and renovated two previously unused operating rooms in which we are now performing surgeries. Since there was no room for expanding the old one, a new intensive care unit is being built that should be completed in two to three months. The new outpatient rooms are already in use. We were already able to see significantly more patients in January.
How does this expansion look in numbers?
If we operate in five operating rooms, for twelve hours per day for five days of the week, the total will be three hundred operating hours per week. This total was sixty hours previously. I need not mention, of course, that this also means that we will need to increase the medical staff, choosing new surgeons from among the best.
Having used the word ’capacity’, when will the institute be up and working at full capacity?
Our plan is to be at full capacity by May or June. Patient care is continuing without interruption. Again let me mention: we will be able to provide medical care quickly to persons living within this district when referred by their family doctor.
February, 2014. február. Hegyvidék Újság, Ildikó Antal, Photo: György Sárközy