Cash-strapped hospitals ‘took on 13,600 new staff’

German hospitals have employed more than 13,000 additional nurses and carers over the last few years, despite continued complaints about underfunding, a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper says.

Cash-strapped hospitals 'took on 13,600 new staff'
Photo: DPA

A special programme of the last government enabled 13,600 additional people to be employed in hospitals, a new study by the statutory health insurers suggests – yet despite this success the researchers have warned against repeating the programme.

The insurers’ association (GKV-Spitzenverband) said the governmental injection of €1.1 billion was crucial in the increase of care personnel in German hospitals between 2009 and 2011.

Around 70 percent of all hospitals signed up for the special funding and used it to employ more staff, while around 4,400 jobs were cut in other hospitals, according to figures from the Statistics Office.

The German Association of Hospitals reported that around 40 percent of hospitals made a financial loss in 2012, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said.

Increases in staff-associated costs was a major cause for concern, with wages rising by 18.6 percent since 2006 – compared with a 8.7 percent rise in prices hospitals charged over the same period. Many managers reacted to this by cutting nurse and carer jobs, something which was seemingly successfully countered by the job creation programme.

Yet despite this, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said that the GKV-Spitzenverband was not in favour of the programme being revived, saying it was papering over cracks by helping hospitals which were not managing their budgets well – and not helping those which were employing enough care personnel.

The Local/hc

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Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination.