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“It took the coronavirus pandemic for everyone to understand that it is wrong to cut public spending on health care and education,” Bertalan Tóth, co-leader of the opposition Socialists said. Tóth said his party’s pre-election programme called for increasing public spending in these sectors. “Now we can see the consequences of neglecting health care for years,” he said. Even after the recent increase in doctors’ wages, Hungary still spends less than the EU average on health care, resulting in indebted hospitals, long waiting lists and a shortage of doctors and nurses, Tóth said.
Regarding education, Tóth said the government’s reorganisation of the public education sector has resulted in a tragic decline in students’ academic performance, and it deepens social disparities rather than eliminating them. Therefore, MSZP is proposing a radical transformation of health care and public and higher education, Tóth said, calling for a caring, opportunity-creating state and a well-developed municipal system. In health care, the Socialists would improve services, drastically reduce waiting lists, employ more GPs and paediatricians and raise wages in the sector to the EU average by 2024, he said. Tóth said they would provide opportunities for further education to all talented young people, raise the compulsory school age to 18 years, reduce the number of compulsory lessons per week for teachers, and “return privatised universities to public ownership and reinstate their freedom”.