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European Union of Private Hospitals

Interview with Thomas Bublitz, Chief Executive of the German Federation of Private Hospitals (BDPK)

Inflation, end of Corona aid, staff shortages – how serious is the situation for German hospitals today?

The situation is very serious. The number of hospitals with negative operating results is at a record level of 60 percent. Many hospitals have not yet closed on the 2020 nursing budget, which means a serious liquidity problem for them. The after-effects of the Corona pandemic are still clearly felt in the hospitals. The number of patients has dropped by 10 to 15 percent. Against the backdrop of the strained staffing situation, hospital personnel are reaching their limits, especially since staff members are increasingly failing to work due to Corona. In addition, the number of patients suffering from corona in the intensive care units is increasing. We expect the situation to worsen in autumn/winter. Added to this are inflation and the massive increase in energy costs, which the hospitals can no longer absorb. The “Red Alert: Hospitals in Danger” campaign initiated by the German Hospital Federation is urgently needed.

The situation is also dramatic for rehabilitation and preventive care facilities. Every fourth rehab facility is affected by insolvency. Staff shortages, inflation, rising energy prices and Corona have hit the sector massively. At the beginning of September, we conducted a flash survey among our member facilities. According to this, their costs for materials, food and for medical supplies have increased by up to 30 per cent compared to the previous year. The imminent explosion of energy costs by up to 400 percent will lead many rehabilitation and preventive care clinics into an existential crisis. Since the reimbursement rates they receive from the health insurance funds and pension insurance for treatment are fixed for the long term, the facilities will be left sitting on these cost increases. The following also applies to rehab: “Red alert: rehab and preventive care in danger“.

What is expected from the Ministry of Health and the federal states?

At the beginning of September, the federal government put together a relief package to curb the rise in energy prices. However, hospitals as well as rehabilitation and preventive care facilities were not considered. We expect the federal government to make urgent adjustments here and also to finally get inflation compensation for hospitals and rehabilitation and preventive care facilities underway.

What are the consequences for the sick and the population?

As already mentioned above: nursing staff shortages, inflation and rising energy prices are causing the crisis. In addition, an increase in corona cases is expected for autumn/winter. The consequences of all this will be felt very clearly by the patients. Almost 90% of hospitals expect to have to close wards in the coming months, and almost 80% will have to postpone scheduled operations again. So supply bottlenecks will become clearly visible. This must not happen. Action is urgently needed and, above all, must be taken quickly.