Health: clinics warn of financial difficulties – debate about reform plans

Clinics warn of financial difficulties – debate about reform plans

A nurse walks across a corridor in the corona intensive care unit of the Essen University Hospital. photo

© Fabian Strauch/dpa

The federal and state governments have been struggling for weeks to reorganize the clinic network. The complex operation should also take the economic pressure off hospitals – because the situation is tense in many places.

The German Hospital Society has warned of acute financial difficulties in many clinics. “We assume that 20 to 30 percent of the clinics are currently dealing with the issue of insolvency because they have no clear continuation forecast or are no longer creditworthy,” said CEO Gerald Gass of the “Rheinische Post”.

The hospital reform planned by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is “not suitable for preventing disorderly hospital deaths”. The minister only wanted to redistribute money, but not provide any additional money. Time is running out, the clinics were missing ten billion euros by the end of the year.

Planned reorganization of the hospitals

Lauterbach wants to consult with the federal states again this Thursday about the planned reorganization of the hospitals and is aiming for more concrete proposals over the summer. In essence, the remuneration system is to be changed with flat rates for treatment cases in order to free clinics from economic pressure. In order not to be dependent on more and more cases, they should get a larger share for the provision of service offers. The focus is also on classifying the clinic network into three levels of care and financing them accordingly – from basic care close to home to a second level with other offers up to maximum care providers such as university clinics.

Gass said that specializing in complex treatments was correct and was already taking place. “But it is a mistake to put a federal template over the hospital landscape and smash functioning structures.”

Medical President Klaus Reinhardt spoke of a necessary reform. “If you leave that to the market and the free play of forces, then that doesn’t lead to a reasonable and meaningful adjustment to the requirements,” he said on Deutschlandfunk. Otherwise, under certain circumstances, hospitals that you would have wanted to keep could go offline. He supported concentrating highly specialized offers more in metropolitan areas. A patient actually has to overcome a little more distance in certain questions, but is certainly cared for in a place where expertise prevails. “I think that’s in the interests of patients.”

Particular attention is required for sparsely populated regions

The German Foundation for Patient Protection also called for special attention to be paid to sparsely populated regions. “The conurbations are oversupplied. But the rural areas are bleeding out,” said board member Eugen Brysch on Monday of the German Press Agency. He called for at least 250 rural hospitals to be supported with an emergency program. Without a priority list for investments and special funds, a dangerous development is emerging for the sick.

The Bavarian Minister of Health, Klaus Holetschek, called for an “appropriate timetable”. The federal government should not rush into any hasty reforms, either in preparation or in implementation, but must thoroughly address the concerns of the federal states and practitioners, said the CSU politician on Monday. It is also important to alleviate the shortage of skilled workers in the healthcare sector. What is needed is a clear commitment to good medical care, even in rural areas.


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