Hospitals often make losses with departments for pediatric and adolescent medicine. The number of beds in Saxony-Anhalt’s children’s hospitals has fallen. The federal government wants to help them next year with an amount in the millions.

Magdeburg (dpa/sa) – Children’s clinics in Saxony-Anhalt reduced beds last year. The number decreased by 74 to 1024 from 2020 to 2021. This emerges from data from the Federal Statistical Office at the request of the left-wing faction in the Bundestag.

On request, the Sachsen-Anhalt hospital association stated that children’s wards had to close in recent years because there were no specialists and the proceeds did not cover the costs. In addition, the decline in beds can also be explained by mergers through hospital mergers.

Eva von Angern, leader of the Left parliamentary group in the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt, described the dismantling as a “scandal”. “The state government is doing too little against the current supply crisis.” The clinics saved on the little ones because they wouldn’t pay off. “This perfidious logic has to end!” Prime Minister Haseloff must provide enough hospital beds, demanded von Angern.

Hospital financing is organized in two ways in Germany: while the federal states are responsible for investments, the hospital treatments are reimbursed by the health insurance companies with flat rates per case. The hospitals receive fixed allocations, called DRGs, for each patient and diagnosis.

Critics complain that the reimbursement system puts hospitals under pressure to increase operations in profitable areas and often to reduce loss-making departments such as pediatric and adolescent medicine or obstetrics. “Child care is complex and intensive,” said a spokeswoman for the Saxony-Anhalt Hospital Society. The costs of a children’s hospital would not be properly reflected in the DRG system.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has promised help. The Bundestag has decided that there should be an additional 300 million euros each for children’s hospitals in 2023 and 2024. The hospitals hope that the federal government will continue to help afterwards. According to the hospital company, Lauterbach’s approach is a step in the right direction. However, this should not be limited to a period of time, but must be sustainable.