The hospital reform initiated by Health Minister Lauterbach could come too late: almost 60 percent of German clinics expect to be in the red in 2022, and health experts fear a huge wave of bankruptcies in the coming year.
Germany's hospitals have had a disastrous financial year: almost 60 percent of the hospitals expect losses in the closing balance sheet. This is reported by the editorial network Germany (RND). A situation report by the German Hospital Society (DKG) predicts an unprecedented wave of bankruptcies for the coming year, the report goes on to say. "In 2023, a wave of insolvencies will roll towards our clinics that can hardly be stopped," said association leader Gerald Gass to the RND. The damage to medical care will become visible in many regions in 2023, he emphasized, referring to the current hospital barometer of the German Hospital Institute (DKI), an annual representative survey of general hospitals in Germany.
According to this, 59 percent of the clinics expect to be in the red in 2022. In 2021, this proportion was still 43 percent. According to the survey, the proportion of hospitals with a positive annual result will more than halve, from 44 to an expected 20 percent, the RND quotes from the hospital barometer. About every fifth hospital (21 percent) assumes a balanced result for 2022. Their share was still 13 percent in 2021. Expectations for the coming year also look bleak: More than half of the hospitals (56 percent) expect the economic situation to deteriorate further in 2023, while only 17 percent of hospitals expect an improvement. 27 percent of the clinics assume that the situation will remain unchanged.
"The priority of medicine over the economy announced by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach remains an empty promise," criticized Gass. In 2023, the structural deficit will add up to around 15 billion euros. According to the survey, the personnel situation in the clinics, especially in nursing, is still worrying. By mid-2022, almost 90 percent of hospitals were having trouble filling open nursing positions on general wards. In critical care, three out of four hospitals have had difficulties filling vacancies.
Compared to the previous year, the number of open nursing positions on the general wards has increased from 14,400 to 20,600 - an increase of 43 percent, the RND reports. In intensive care, a projected 9,500 full-time positions remained vacant. Compared to the previous year with 7900 vacant intensive care positions, this corresponds to an increase of 20 percent.
According to the DKG, the results of the Hospital Barometer 2022 are based on a representative sample of general hospitals with 100 beds or more, which was carried out from mid-April to the end of June 2022. A total of 309 hospitals took part.