10 percent of clinics threatened with closure

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Ten percent of hospitals are threatened with closure

The existence of numerous German hospitals is threatened, according to the latest "Hospital Rating Report" of the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI). According to the RWI President Christoph Schmidt, around ten percent of the clinics will come under considerable financial pressure in the coming years vis-à-vis “ZDF”.

According to the RWI president, around 200 of the approximately 2,000 clinics in Germany are at risk. In particular, clinics that cannot generate the required investment costs are threatened with closure, said Christoph Schmidt. In the current "Hospital Rating Report", the RWI comes to the conclusion that every tenth hospital in Germany faces significant financial difficulties.

Cost pressure and demographic change necessitate hospital closures The president of RWI blamed the increasing cost pressure from advances in medical technology and demographic change for the impending closure of ten percent of German clinics. But the cut in government funds also has a noticeable share in the financial difficulties of the clinics. However, the RWI president does not recommend rescuing the threatened hospitals, but calls on politicians to give in to the forecast trend. Schmid emphasized that "local politics (...) too often holds a protective hand over loss-making hospitals", which is not in the interests of the patients and harms medical care. The economist therefore spoke out in favor of "taking money in hand in order to create a better structure - also by merging, also by closing - as something that can no longer function". According to Schmid, municipal hospitals in West Germany are particularly at risk, most of which are unable to generate the investment costs they need today.

Healthcare reform puts clinics under pressure According to the German Hospital Association (DKG), the fact that around one in ten hospitals in Germany will come under pressure according to RWI calculations is not only due to uneconomical structures or location causes. The main managing director of the DKG, Georg Baum, emphasized that the cuts made in the health care reform to reorganize the statutory health insurances have a significant share in the financial problems of most clinics. This year, the clinics only had 0.3 percent scope for price increases, the DKG managing director reported. With costs that explode at a "high pace", financial difficulties are inevitable. Baum warned that "politics must take the warning signs out of the houses seriously" in order not to endanger medical care. For example, the German government should “rethink its next round of cuts, which is already in law in 2012,” as the hospitals would otherwise lose another 600 million euros, said the DKG managing director.

Health insurance companies reject concessions to support the clinics However, the suggestions of the DKG manager felt that the statutory health insurance companies were provoked and the umbrella organization of statutory health insurance companies immediately rejected the suggestions. According to the deputy head of the umbrella organization for statutory health insurance, Johann-Magnus von Stackelberg, there is no scope in the inpatient area to accommodate the clinics in the face of impending financial difficulties. The rapidly increasing expenditure in the hospital sector is already a considerable stress test for the statutory health insurance companies. According to Johann-Magnus von Stackelberg, statutory health insurance companies will probably spend almost 18 million euros more on hospital care this year than in 2008 (over 60 billion euros compared to 52.6 billion euros in 2008). (fp)

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Picture: Günter Havlena / pixelio.de

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