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Health Minister rejects limit to waiting period for appointments
Photo: DPA

Health Minister rejects limit to waiting period for appointments

Published: 28 Feb 2011 09:00 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Feb 2011 09:00 GMT+01:00

German Health Minister Philipp Rösler on Monday rejected plans by conservatives to ensure doctor’s appointments within three weeks for those with public health insurance, saying it would not address the real problem – a shortage of doctors.

"One can promise a lot, but it doesn’t solve any problems," he told daily Die Welt. "A good treatment situation can’t just be ensured with a law."

The member of junior government coalition partners, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), said that long waiting periods have nothing to do with doctors being unwilling to treat patients.

“The fact is there are too few doctors who even have appointments to give,” he told the paper. “Therefore I maintain that we must make sure there are more doctors again.”

Last week Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats resolved to limit waiting periods for medical appointments to three weeks. According to the plan, public health insurers and doctors’ associations would be responsible for making this happen.

In September 2010 a study by the German Medical Association (BÄK) and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) called the country’s doctor shortage an “urgent threat,” particularly in rural areas.

Older doctors are retiring with no one to replace them, the associations said. The average age of doctors in 2009 was 51.9 years.

Many doctors are going to work overseas, and the growing number of women doctors means that there are fewer full time medical practitioners, as women tend to work shorter hours for reasons such as having children. More than 60 percent of medical students in 2008 were female.

“The gaps in outpatient and GP medical care are getting ever larger,” the study said.

DAPD/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:10 February 28, 2011 by catjones
How's that socialized medicine thingy workin out for ya?
10:22 February 28, 2011 by So36
Much better than America's third-world healthcare system and the NHS, thanks.
13:20 February 28, 2011 by catjones
@So36..either you're joking or ignorant.
13:36 February 28, 2011 by So36
And apparently you're so filthy rich you've never been forced into a Stalinist HMO in the US. By far the worst and most restrictive health insurance I've ever had. Of course, the rich don't have to worry about not having access to decent health care in America - as I said, just like the third world.
14:18 February 28, 2011 by nashville
I've never waited more than 2 days to see a specialist. Is it the area I live in, since it's not rural? And I'll take Germany's health care any day over the US. I've had both, and I can fairly compare. I have a friend in the US who has waited since January to see a neurologist, and her appt. is in June, which was the first appt. available. So that system surely doesn't get you in any faster than this "socialized" system.
15:49 February 28, 2011 by michael4096
I've experienced US & UK also and I'll stick with Germany.

I don't think So36 is the ignorant one.
16:14 February 28, 2011 by mobiusro
Many doctors are going to work overseas, and the growing number of women doctors means that there are fewer full time medical practitioners, as women tend to work shorter hours for reasons such as having children. More than 60 percent of medical students in 2008 were female.

So long as we're talking about tackling the real problem, offer longer hours for childcare or kindergartens. What doctor finishes work at 17:00? It has nothing to do with the sex of the doctor.

Tackle the childcare problem and that should help solve other outstanding issues as well. But yeah, in a country where not long ago the noise of children playing was categorised as industrial noise pollution...
16:47 February 28, 2011 by catjones
@So36.. you're ignorant.
17:54 February 28, 2011 by mrsams
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/nhs
20:20 February 28, 2011 by So36
@catjones. Can't handle the truth, eh?
21:16 February 28, 2011 by charlenej
I totally agree with mobiusro. If school didn't end at noon, women would work longer hours. The problem with Germany is this notion that mommy is supposed to be home making lunch for the children. It is 2011. That has got to go.
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