Hospital company continues to warn against hospital reform

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Head of the DKG, Gerald Gaß. /axentis.de

Leipzig – German Hospital Society (DKG) also warns about possible negative consequences of the hospital reform planned by the Federal Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach (SPD). The project poses considerable risks to patient care, Gerald Gaß, CEO of the umbrella association of hospital operators in Germany, said today. Longer waiting times and travel times should be expected.

With his reform, Lauterbach wants to fundamentally change the financing, organization and range of services of the approximately 1,900 hospitals in Germany. A key objective is to improve care by ensuring that complex treatments, in particular, are only carried out in settings specializing in this area.

According to the current state of the reform, which has not yet been initiated by the Federal Cabinet, there will continue to be bottlenecks and waiting times for complex treatments in the future, Gaß said.

If smaller hospitals stopped providing care, larger hospitals would reach their limits when it came to accepting additional patients or face financial disadvantages, Gaß said. In sparsely populated rural regions, places of care would also be eliminated, which would worsen basic and emergency care. With the reform there is no guarantee of the existence of small clinics in rural areas.

Overall, Lauterbach is planning excessive centralization, criticized Gaß. This means that staff also have to move to new central locations. However, employees are often rooted in their region and can migrate to other areas.

Hannes Dahnke, CEO of Vebeto, criticized the planned linkage of performance groups to precise minimum quantities. This would be too strict a requirement and would lead to a regular loss of funding for hospitals. The hospital reform envisages linking the planned reserve funding to service groups.

Only if the state assigns a hospital a specific group of services, for example, emergency medicine or general surgery, should it be authorized to provide and bill for those services. But if a hospital had fewer cases than usual in a year, it would quickly run into financial difficulties, Dahnke said.

Gaß also called for a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the reform. Without this analysis, there is a risk of flying blind. The announced simulation of the Government Commission for Hospitals won’t be able to do that, especially since it won’t be made available to states until the fall. © cmk/kna/aerzteblatt.de

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