Around 70% of German hospitals expect a loss this year, according to a survey by management consultancy Roland Berger. HBI chats with a German operator source to find out more.
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One German operator said the number was “more or less accurate”, saying: “Even before Covid there was a significant percentage of hospitals making losses, I think 30-40%. And there has been an increase recently.
“This increase is based on inflation on operational expenditure (opex) with big infrastructure impacted by the consumer price index on energy, maintenance, food etc. There are also structural staff shortages which can only be covered by more expensive freelance staff, salary increases which aren’t fully reimbursed.
“We’ve also seen an increase in Covid infections since distancing rules softened, and our staff still need to test and self-isolate for a minimum of 5 days.”
Another operator agrees, saying: “For sure, the pressure is higher than ever before due to inflation on energy prices and wages, but even worse is nursing and physician shortages. So many hospitals don’t even have enough resources to work a rebound off.”
HBI previously reported German hospitals were also worried about inflationary pressures. As hospital tariffs are set a year in arrears, hospitals will have to absorb the losses due to this themselves, although the general view of analysts is hospitals will kick and scream and ultimately get over it.
Among factors blamed for the potential losses are workforce problems with nursing staff no longer available, or dropping hours, or having a higher rate of illness than they did pre-pandemic, meaning hospitals cannot meet the minimum staffing numbers to admit inpatients. The view of many analysts and providers is outpatient care is not compensated at the same rate.
Demand has also reportedly not bounced back to the extent hospitals wanted. Many hospitals planned based on figures from 2019 but have found demand has not risen to the levels which were expected pre-pandemic. HBI hears patients are also cancelling more appointments.