Hospitals warn of burden on entire healthcare system

The head of the hospital company, Gerald Gass, describes the situation as dramatic: “We are currently seeing that all areas of health are reaching their limits.”

According to the hospitals, the tense situation in children’s hospitals and the high level of work stoppages in all specialized departments are increasingly becoming an acute burden on the entire healthcare system. “We are currently seeing that all areas of healthcare are reaching their limits,” German Hospital Society CEO Gerald Gass told our editorial team. “The situation in children’s hospitals in Germany is dramatic,” Gass warned. According to a hospital society survey available to our editors, 59% of hospitals say they no longer have enough nursing staff in pediatric wards.

Gass warned that the impending overload would spread throughout the healthcare system. “Physicians in private practice have exhausted their capacities and are increasingly affected by cases of illness,” he explained. “The same applies to hospitals, whose beds are becoming scarce and which can hardly compensate for the overload of the established area,” said the CEO of the association of hospital operators. In nearly every hospital with a children’s emergency room, utilization has increased sharply since the wave of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections and drug supply bottlenecks.

Video: dpa

Hospitals are seeing an increase in the number of emergency rooms

“Some children are admitted to hospital due to the unavailability of medication on outpatient treatment,” Gass said. “These are intolerable conditions,” he criticized. According to surveys by the hospital association, one in three German clinics recorded an increase in emergency room admissions of 40 to 60 percent. At the same time, however, the sickness rate among clinic staff reaches 10%, which is significantly higher than usual figures in winter.

According to a flash survey by the German Hospital Institute (DKI) for the German Hospital Society (DKG), 59% of children’s clinics and hospitals with children’s departments are currently no longer able to meet the legal lower care limits . This means that nurses currently have to care for many more patients than is actually allowed per nurse.

Children’s clinics and services cite a general shortage of skilled workers, insufficient funding, current bottlenecks in outpatient care in pediatric practices and an above-average work stoppage rate in hospitals as the main reasons. current overload. At the same time, clinics are skeptical whether the immediate measures announced by SPD Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach will improve the situation: according to the survey, 85% of hospitals do not believe that wise to use adult staff. treatment rooms for children and adolescents. Twelve percent of hospitals can no longer meet minimum nursing staff limits in specialist wards because they had to transfer staff to clinics for children and adolescents.

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Clinics justify staff and funding shortage issues

Instead, two-thirds of hospitals prefer to work with other clinics, for example for patient admissions and transfers. One in four children’s hospitals now rely on treating children and young people in hospitals that are in fact only for adults. For half of the children’s hospitals, it is enough to cooperate with each other to be able to provide care at the time. Only 35% succeed without aid cooperation.

A critical care nurse tends to a patient with respiratory syncytial virus (RS virus or RSV) who is being ventilated in a pediatric intensive care unit.

Photo: Marijan Murat, dpa (symbolic image)

According to the survey, more than 95 percent of children’s clinics see the main cause of the crisis in the general shortage of skilled workers and insufficient funding for their care work. For 86%, above-average sick leave is also partly responsible for the current crisis. Thus, 95% of hospitals are asking for a fundamental reform of hospital financing and are demanding elements of remuneration independent of flat rates to financially ensure basic care. An expert commission set up by Health Minister Lauterbach recently called for something similar.

The head of the Gass hospital company calls for a lasting solution

“The task of health policy is clear: we must strengthen all areas, especially pediatric and adolescent medicine and obstetrics,” asks the CEO of the Hospital Society Gass. “The financial injections now planned for these areas are received by the clinics and are also perceived positively, but they cannot solve the long-term problems,” he said. But the approximately 400 million planned for hospitals would be taken elsewhere via the specialized flat-rate catalog, “to then be generously redistributed”, criticized Gass.

“The situation in children’s hospitals shows that it is not enough to redistribute funds in the hospital system,” he stressed. “Distributing money that was previously withdrawn elsewhere will do little to ensure the care of small patients in the long term,” he warned. “We also see that hospitals will have to play a bigger role in outpatient care in the future, not just because the capacity limit has been reached in the private sector. In pediatrics, there is a crunch everywhere, whether in hospital or in the doctor’s office.

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