Düsseldorf (dpa / lnw) - According to North Rhine-Westphalia's Minister of Health Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU), the serious bottlenecks in children's hospitals do not endanger the lives of the little ones. The children's hospitals are currently under "considerable tension," said Laumann on Friday in the state parliament in Düsseldorf. However, the country manages to take care of the little patients “with the greatest effort”.
Virus infections similar to the current RSV infection wave have also existed in previous years and clinics and staff for the little ones "up to the limit". It is also possible to transfer sick children with special rescue services to clinics with free places, said Laumann. In addition, pediatric medicine will now be included in the Germany-wide cloverleaf system.
The cloverleaf system was introduced in 2020 under the impression of the first corona wave and consists of the five regions north, east, west, south-west and south. The system is designed to avoid overburdening individual hospitals by initially relocating patients within a cloverleaf. If this is no longer possible, nationwide transfers are also possible.
The situation is also tense in the outpatient area, said the minister. When the already overcrowded pediatric practices are closed at the weekend, the emergency services come into play. Doctors there reported that they often saw 200 children in one weekend shift, said Laumann.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has already announced aid measures, for example in the care sector. Last week, the Bundestag also passed a package of laws on hospitals, which, among other things, should bring more money for children's hospitals. There should be an additional 300 million euros each for children's hospitals in 2023 and 2024.
According to current figures from the State Statistical Office (IT.NRW), hospitals in NRW have been reducing the number of beds in specialist departments for children since 2018. Accordingly, the number of beds in the main departments of paediatrics, pediatric cardiology, neonatology and pediatric surgery fell from almost 4,800 to around 4,530 in 2021.