Ne doctors have never been as present as in the past few months. The health system has never been so much in focus as in the Corona pandemic. For the first time since the beginning of the health crisis more than a year ago, German doctors gathered again for a doctors’ day on Tuesday. Because of the applicable rules on infection protection, the conference, which should actually have taken place in Rostock, took place digitally. The President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, drew a critical interim balance at the opening of the two-day event. The current situation is “unique in the history of medicine,” said Reinhardt. The health care system was enormously burdened, but in contrast to other countries it was “never overloaded”.
But one lesson from the crisis must be that the health care system must not be thinned out any further and “trimmed for pure cost efficiency”. In Reinhardt’s opinion, the health authorities in particular are “inadequately” equipped with staff and technology. “The experience of the last 15 months has shown that the crisis reaction capacity in this country urgently needs to be optimized in the event of a pandemic situation.”
“Doctors are not vicarious agents”
The German hospitals are also getting too little money, warned Reinhardt. The federal states are primarily responsible for this. “They not only fulfill their obligation to finance investments in very different ways, but mostly also completely inadequately.” Another appeal is not enough, according to Reinhardt. The federal government must also finance the hospitals on a permanent basis.
Above all, Reinhardt opposed the fact that doctors were being put under increasing financial pressure. Hospitals and health insurers are “increasingly encouraging physicians to think in terms of purely business management and to act according to commercial guidelines.” At the same time, physicians see it as their duty to align their professional activities with ethical principles. “As a result, more and more colleagues are getting into conflicting goals that are difficult to resolve,” said Reinhardt. “Doctors are not vicarious agents for commercial interests in health care and they are also not links in a value chain.”
During his appearance in Berlin, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) recorded the exhaustion that many people are likely to feel in view of the ongoing crisis. “We are tired of it after 14 months of pandemic,” said Spahn. The crisis caused a lot of suffering, not only through illness and death, but also through social hardship. Spahn reaffirmed the goal of the federal government to avoid overloading the health system. “That distinguishes us from almost all health systems in our neighboring countries,” said Spahn. It is encouraging that the number of infections is falling. “The direction is right.” Minimizing contacts helps, but vaccination is also slowly making a difference.
Spahn took up Reinhardt’s demand to strengthen the health authorities. “We signed the pact for the public health service,” replied Spahn. The federal government spends four billion euros on personnel and technology. Not all problems have been resolved there, but the direction is correct. The minister used the appearance in front of the doctors for “a small advertising block”, as he himself said. Spahn praised the controversial Corona warning app, which has now been downloaded almost 28 million times. This is an example of how not everything went catastrophically during the crisis. When vaccinating, the “big turbo” was switched on in the week after Easter, because then the doctor’s offices were involved. “Before that it would have made no sense,” said Spahn, because otherwise the doctors would have had to ration the syringes too much.
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