Address by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, marking the appointment of the National Director General of Hospitals and his deputies 
21 December 2020, Budapest

This won’t be a formal speech, but I’d like to say a few words at the end of this brief appointment ceremony – which is much more important than it appears at first sight. It doesn’t appear particularly important for two reasons. On the one hand, because we’re on the march, and every hour something important is happening – as is the nature of the defence operation. And on the other hand, because those whom you should truly thank aren’t here. But in the present state of danger we’re grateful to you for having accepted these posts, and the duties that you’ve now been allocated represent the very peak of the medical profession, medical management and healthcare management.

First of all, I’d like to thank you for accepting this. You’ve made the commitment to a very difficult task. This would be difficult enough in normal times, but it involves double or three times the responsibility in these circumstances, under the enormous pressure which is affecting us all – and our healthcare system in particular. Therefore we’re all grateful that you’ve accepted this work. As you heard in the brief summary earlier, we’re in an extraordinary situation. And in order for these institutions that you’ll now oversee – for the sake of simplicity, let’s call them hospitals – to function properly, skills which aren’t normally prominent in Hungarian public administration will have to displayed by hospital managers, hospital directors and the leaders overseeing them: in other words, you.

The most important thing you’ll need is a culture of cooperation. In Hungarian public administration, everyone is used to a line management approach – or hierarchical management, if you like. This is perfectly normal in state administration, because everyone has a boss, everyone is overseen by someone, and everyone has a task for which they’re accountable to the person who gave them that task. In a defence operation, however, in addition to vertical management there’s also suddenly an increased role for horizontal relations. An example of this is the Operational Group. It’s not easy for us either: in the spirit of the culture of cooperation, the Interior Minister, the Healthcare Minister and I need to cooperate on a daily basis. But this will be even more difficult for you, because all at the same time you’ll have to cooperate with me, with the head of the Operational Group, and with the minister responsible for specialist management. So this is a situation that’s somewhat unusual in Hungarian state administration.

Furthermore, I can’t even promise you that this will only be in the short term; because as things stand now, disease control preparedness is likely to remain in effect throughout the whole of next year, throughout 2021. We’ll see exactly what the rules will be, but based on the vaccine situation, the vaccination plan and so on, it’s clear that we won’t have put this crisis behind us before the end of 2021. Perhaps there will be easier periods after the arrival of the first batch of the vaccine and after the arrival of mass supplies, but it will take at least a whole year before everything returns to normal. So the pressure on us won’t reduce, and this will also be apparent in working hours and responsibility. You’ll be working more than anyone in Hungarian public administration would think possible at present. Except for members of the Government, perhaps no one in the whole of Hungarian state administration will have to work as much as you. The reason for this is that the greatest responsibility will be on your shoulders, as lives must be saved; and while naturally lives are saved directly by doctors in hospitals, working in operating theatres and alongside beds, doctors are unable to save lives unless they’re working in an effectively functioning system. And the system’s effective functioning requires your professional expertise, conscientiousness and leadership skills.

So I don’t envy you. But at the same time, you’re taking on fine work. In times of crisis, manning the defences in such a difficult position as you will be doing in the months ahead is, I think, both a difficult task and an honourable one. The whole country is placing its faith in you. We all know that you’ll be able to deal with this task. For this I wish you much strength and good health. And don’t forget, every life matters. Thank you for having accepted this task.