Why thousands of doctor surgeries are closed in Germany on Monday

DPA/The Local
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Why thousands of doctor surgeries are closed in Germany on Monday
A doctor's waiting room in Germany. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Daniel Karmann

Thousands of GP surgeries across Germany were expected to remain closed on Monday as part of a protest against the government's health policies.


The association of General Practitioners, the Virchowbund, called for the industrial action on Monday. They were joined by almost 20 other medical associations.

The Virchowbund said it expects a five-digit number of doctors' practices to remain closed throughout Germany. Most will also be closed on Tuesday for the public holiday, German Unity Day. 

The association said it was rallying against "painful austerity measures" that politicians and health insurers have been forcing practices to take for decades.

The protest is intended to draw attention to the shortage of skilled workers, the bureaucracy that doctors have to deal with, inflation and high energy costs that practices are facing, as well as the "austerity laws" of the government.

GPs can no longer provide patients with the care they want, Chairman of the Virchowbund, Dirk Heinrich, told ZDF's Morgenmagazin.

Due to cost-cutting measures and cuts in services, it is getting more difficult to take new patients on board, said the health expert. Heinrich said the scrapping of the 'new patient scheme', which offered doctors financial incentives to accept new patients, had made the situation more difficult and called for it to be reinstated. 

However, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, of the Social Democrats (SPD) questioned the demands for more funding, saying that on average practices earn "around €230,000 per year after deducting all costs".

The Virchowbund said Lauterbach only seemed to be interested in hospitals but ignored the hardships of GPs.

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Patients who are affected and who can't wait until Wednesday for their GP to open should use the emergency number 116 117.

"Any patient who has the most urgent need today, such as emergencies, will of course be cared for," Virchowbund chairman Heinrich said. 


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