Financial injection only saves clinics in the short term

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Federal government decides to support the clinics with billions

The financial bottlenecks at numerous hospitals across Germany are to be remedied by additional billion-dollar support, according to the current decision of the federal government. The structural problems of the clinics are not solved in this way, said the German Hospital Society (DKG).

With the cabinet decision, the federal government acknowledges "the financial hardships of the clinics, but does not solve them to the extent necessary", said the managing director of the DKG, Georg Baum. The aid package for the clinics includes an additional allocation of around EUR 1.1 billion this year and next, which will ultimately have to be borne by the health insurance companies. The latter therefore expressed corresponding criticism of the current decision-making process, but are arguably difficult in view of the billions of surpluses that accrue in their area.

The DKG chief executive emphasized that the "funds for the pension surcharges now to be spent come from the 750 million euros cuts that will be withdrawn from the hospitals this and next year." In addition, given the billions of surpluses in statutory health insurance, "it is a requirement of." setting medical priorities, using financial resources for congested inpatient care and for personnel needs to improve infection prevention. ”According to Georg Baum, the funds provided can only cover a fraction of the actual cost increases at the clinics.

Cabinet decision brings little improvement For years, some hospitals have been in the red because the increase in personnel and energy costs cannot be refinanced through the capped compensation adjustments, explained the DKG chief executive. The cabinet decision alleviates the bottlenecks at the clinic, at least in the short term, but according to Georg Baum's estimates, the hospitals remain “on about 25 percent of the tariff increases.” The one-time payment now decided does not improve the financing of personnel costs in the long run. In addition, it remains unclear whether the planned surcharges can also be realized in full, since "the pension surcharges in 16 federal states have yet to be negotiated with the insurance associations," according to the DKG.

More resources for hygiene tasks In addition to the one-time care surcharges, the clinics will also receive an increased allocation for hygiene tasks. Additional funds are to be made available in the course of the new hygiene program so that appropriate specialist staff can be hired in the hospitals and the number of hospital infections (nosocomial infections) can be reduced. The experts' estimates of the number of cases of clinical infections show how extensive this problem actually is. For example, the German Society for Hospital Hygiene (DGKH), the Society for Hygiene, Environmental Medicine and Preventive Medicine (GHUP) and the Federal Association of Physicians in the Public Health Service (BVÖGD) came to the conclusion from a calculation from 2011 that more than 700,000 patients suffer from nosocomial infection in Germany every year and around 30,000 patients die each year from the consequences of such an infection.

Sustainable relief for the clinics required? As part of the current cabinet decision, the Federal Minister of Health Daniel Bahr also reminded that the individual federal states must also fulfill their task when investing in the clinics. A not unjustified demand, since the high energy costs of the clinics are not infrequently due to a considerable renovation backlog or could be significantly reduced by an energetic renovation of the clinics. Appropriate funding programs or allocations could significantly reduce the fixed costs of the clinics and create a lasting relief effect. The currently decided, one-time financial injection, however, does not manage this. This was also emphasized by Michael Philippi, CEO of Sana-Kliniken, one of the largest private clinic operators in Germany. He told the Reuters news agency that "in this way no sustainable future orientation of the financing system will be achieved." The next federal government must therefore fundamentally review the hospital financing. (fp)

Image: Michael Staudinger /

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