Anyone who currently has to go to the hospital with a sick child is experiencing extremely tense conditions. Due to a wave of respiratory infections, many children’s hospitals are overcrowded. The German Child Protection Association calls the shortages “dramatic” and calls for an emergency program.
The German Child Protection League has called for a “rapid emergency financial program” for children’s hospitals. “This is a feeling of complete powerlessness. The shortage in pediatric care is very dramatic. I am truly appalled that it has been allowed to come to this,” President Heinz Hilgers told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND). Because of a wave of respiratory infections, many children’s hospitals are overcrowded right now. The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi) already spoke of a “catastrophic situation” in children’s intensive care units.
In Hilger’s view, the current crisis is the result of “decades of neglect” by politicians. Due to a shortage of specialists, it “cannot be dealt with in the short term.” According to Hilgers, there have been warnings of such overload in clinics and doctors’ practices for years. Unfortunately, no improvements have been addressed “because of the exclusively business orientation of the system, which is designed for full capacity utilization.”
Green Party health expert Janosch Dahmen told the German Press Agency that measures are now needed to improve care for children in the short term. For example, the coordination of free hospital beds must be expanded. In children’s wards, specialists from other areas could take over simple tasks. Outpatient services in emergency practices should be expanded. “The care situation for children in hospitals and doctors’ offices is currently alarming,” Dahmen said. There is distress in many hospitals, he said. This is the result of seasonal increases in respiratory illnesses and increasing staff shortages, he said.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has already announced relief measures. For example, nursing staff are to be transferred from adult to children’s wards. The SPD politician called on health insurers not to review staffing specifications for the time being and to suspend sanctions. In addition, he appealed to parents and pediatricians to postpone preventive examinations that are not immediately necessary. On Friday, the Bundestag had passed a package of laws on hospitals, which should bring more money for children’s hospitals and relief for urgently needed nursing staff. There will be an additional 300 million euros for children’s hospitals in 2023 and 2024.