Center hospitals lose CHF 1 million every day due to the Corona crisis. That’s what the Basel city health director Lukas Engelberger (cvp.) Says. The federal government has banned election interventions – now it must participate in the financial consequences.
The number of COVID 19 cases is steadily declining – without there ever being bottlenecks in the hospitals. Was the devil painted on the wall in advance of the pandemic?
The worst scenarios have indeed not occurred. With us in Basel-Stadt, the number of hospitalized COVID 19 patients has been falling for two weeks. The same applies to people in the intensive care unit. I hope this trend continues. What has been shown so far is that the course is milder than feared in many regions – but this was ultimately the aim of the measures. It turns out that our system has passed the endurance test.
Hospitals are already complaining that they have too little to do. The number of interventions that have nothing to do with COVID-19 also remains below expectations. Why?
On the one hand, the massive restrictions in everyday life mean that accidents are becoming less frequent. In Basel, this is noticeable in the emergency wards and the children’s hospital. On the other hand, people are currently looking to distance themselves from healthcare facilities. You do not want to overload the system and are sometimes afraid of being infected with COVID-19. But caution is advised in this development.
Waiting too long with medical treatment can be dangerous. If you have a health problem, you should see a doctor – in your interest. Severe courses due to untreated diseases also lead to an additional burden on the health system.
However, the federal government itself has made it clear that operations that are not necessary must be postponed to relieve the hospitals.
Besides, this has led to a sharp decline in the number of patients: the healthcare facilities have been prohibited from doing anything that is not urgently reported. Hospitals that do not play a role in the care of COVID 19 patients are also prohibited from carrying out election interventions. Large capacities are now idle.
What are the consequences for the hospitals?
The drop in earnings is sometimes drastic: In the Basel region, we are talking about a drop in up to a third of inpatients at hospitals with a wide range of offers. The decline is even greater for outpatients and clinics that specialize in election interventions. For many houses, this crisis could threaten their existence.
The Confederation issued the emergency ordinance in cooperation with the cantons. Why didn’t the health directors draw your attention to this?
The cantons were not consulted on this point of the regulation.
So do you consider the ban on voting to be wrong?
No, the federal government was forced to act in the face of the dynamic of the epidemic. There were no viable alternatives at this point. But now you have to reorient yourself.
On the one hand, the question arises as to which examinations and interventions can be permitted again if the measures are relaxed. On the other hand, the federal government must make its contribution to maintaining the health system.
That means you want money?
The cantons are responsible for this. However, the federal government, as the legislator, intervened directly in the canton’s competence. It would be nothing but fair if he participated in the financial consequences.
What size are we talking about?
It is difficult to quantify at the moment, especially since it is not clear how long the crisis will last. A center hospital is currently losing a million Swiss francs a day. It is therefore important that health care providers sit down at a table. This is exactly what the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors (GDK) asked for. The insurers are also challenged.
Why the insurers?
As a result of the crisis, they are expected to have lower costs in the current year. And they too have an interest in ensuring that the service providers do not emerge harmed from the crisis.
Some of the hospitals are applying for short-time work and are already receiving support.
Some of the hospitals take this route. However, it is unclear whether public law institutions are allowed to register short-time work. That has to be clarified. However, for me it is clear that this must be the case: after all, these are companies that make their contributions to unemployment insurance.
Switzerland has been pushing for a structural adjustment in the hospital landscape for years. Wouldn’t it be a positive side effect if it finally accelerated as a result of the Corona crisis?
This is not about overcapacity. Hospitals are also affected by this crisis, which is systemically important because they provide emergency and intensive care services that are particularly in demand during the crisis. Extraordinary services are currently being provided in the healthcare sector. It would be incomprehensible if this branch could not benefit from the federal aid packages. Quite apart from that, I cannot imagine that the population’s desire for a structural adjustment in the hospital sector will grow after this crisis.