Coronavirus: Germany, the first European health power, runs out of doctors

Beds and respirators are surplus, but health personnel are lacking since before the pandemic. The virus made the crisis worse.

Germany is the first sanitary power Europe. Angela Merkel’s country is the one with the most intensive care units in its hospitals (one for every 3,000 inhabitants), to the point that in the worst moments of this pandemic (March and April and now since mid-October) she accepted patients from neighboring countries: Dutch, Belgian, French, Hungarian or Czech. Germany never had the shortage of materials (respirators, masks) that other European countries had.

Your problem, which weathered in March and April but is becoming more and more pressing, is personal.

Germany needed before the pandemic to add at least 4,000 people to your healthcare staff. Those needs have increased with this crisis. Doctors and nurses are lacking in German hospitals as the country reaches its worst moment of the pandemic, with the 410 fatalities that you recorded this Tuesday.

Angela Merkel meets on Wednesday the representatives of the lander, the regional governments. Against its European neighbors, who begin to announce the easing of restrictions on the Christmas holidays despite the fact that they are also suffering a number of deaths from covid-19 that they had not seen since the first wave, Germany does not have no intention to open hand. Unlike.

In addition to keeping everything that closed earlier this month (restaurants, bars, cinemas, sports facilities or theaters) closed, Merkel wants further reduce private meetings. The current rule says that the maximum number of people in a private meeting is 10 who are from a maximum of two family units.

Health data do not improve. The daily average of new infections is around 20,000 in the last week, a figure that has not decreased for at least three weeks. On Monday there were 3,742 people in intensive care in German hospitals, 10% more than the previous Monday. These are figures that exceed those of March and April, when Germany contained the pandemic much better than its neighbors.

Despite these numbers, German hospitals still have a lot of room because they have 27,861 intensive care units and can create another 12,043 in a week, but health managers tell the German press that their problem is not material. but of staff.

Beds and respirators are surplus, specialized staff to treat more sick people if the data keeps getting worse. The interim solution has been to transfer doctors and nurses from other services, to put people back to work who they had already retired and medical students.

The political measures to correct this problem began to be implemented in 2018, but they will take time to bear fruit. That year a minimum staffing level was established for the first time for each hospital. Below that level, hospitals face penalties.

In November the lack of personnel began to jump to the media when the Association of Doctors of Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine denounced that many hospitals declared that they had free beds when in fact they were not available beds due to lack of personnel. The beds were in the wards, but there was no one who could take care of the eventual patients who arrived.

Germany believes that the peak of the second wave will arrive in mid december. And if you know that you will not have problems with materials and intensive care units, try to move personnel from the least affected areas to the most affected to avoid any hospital overflowing.

Brussels, special

ap

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