Doctors go on strike – despite new deal

Doctors go on strike - despite new deal
Photo: DPA
Tens of thousands of medical practices around Germany shut their doors on Wednesday as part of a nationwide protest by doctors over new fees, even though a new agreement with insurers was struck late Tuesday.

Germany’s 150,000 practice-based doctors will receive between €1.15 billion and €1.27 billion more in fees in the coming year, according to a deal struck on Tuesday evening.

Despite the agreement, the spokesman for an alliance of German doctors’ associations, Dirk Heinrich, said that between 60,000 and 80,000 participants were expected to join in protest action on Wednesday.

The KBV, which represents practice-based doctors and psychotherapists who work with state health insurers, has spent weeks negotiating next year’s fees with the insurers’ association the GKV.

The association recently offered an additional €900 million, while doctors were pressing for an increase of around €3.5 billion.

Chairman of the board at AOK, one of Germany’s largest insurance companies, Uwe Deh, criticised the strikes and told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the doctors were only harming the patients by closing their doors.

“Anyone who thinks that protesting further is on the wrong track,” he said, adding that it was important that “those in discussion come to an agreement.”

Patients with appointments scheduled for Wednesday were advised to phone their doctors’ offices beforehand to check whether the practices would be open, or operating at reduced capacity.

A spokesman for the doctors’ alliance said a number of orthopaedic, gastro-intestinal, heart, lung, and ENT specialists would completely shut their offices. Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Munich, Düsseldorf, Augsburg and Nuremberg were among the cities that would see the most closures.

Meanwhile, surveys show there is little public support for the doctors’ demands. A poll conducted by Infratest dimap on behalf of public broadcaster ARD said just six percent of Germans backed the doctors.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/arp

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