Repetition overtakes the truth

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were around 28,000 intensive care beds in Germany. With great fanfare, the politicians took up the cause and donated almost 700 million euros to the hospitals for 13,700 more beds. Actually, there should now be 41,700 intensive care beds available at the beginning of winter – but there are only 22,230 beds and, according to the intensive care register, only 2,439 of them are available. And where is the rest? The beds were paid for by the taxpayer and are physically available – usually in the cellars still packed in the original way. However, there is a lack of staff to serve them. The federal government transferred a total of 15.3 billion euros in corona grants to hospital operators last year. But they have to generate returns and you don't think about the staff either at the operators or in the ministries. And so it comes as it had to come.

The example of the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf shows how bottlenecks can occur in the intensive care units. In 2016 and 2017, the UKE had 146 intensive care beds throughout. By May 2020, the number was slightly reduced to 140. In June 2020, an intensive care unit with 12 beds was moved to the reserve. Now there were only 128 beds. These were also reported consistently in 2021 with minor fluctuations, until in September of this year the number was suddenly reduced to 108. Another 20 beds were therefore moved to the reserve and no longer reported to the intensive care register. And although the UKE signals sufficient spare capacities in the intensive care register even with this number of beds with a green light, its intensive care director counterfactually warns in the media of an impending "triage" in his house – this, mind you, at an occupancy rate that is at a historic low compared to previous years; so low that dozens of intensive care beds have been moved to the reserve.

Full intensive care units are not an error in the system, but the normal case. A spokesman for the Hamburg Social Welfare Authority comments the figures are therefore laconic: "Intensive care beds are not there to stand around unused. ... The fact that you have a relatively high workload in the intensive care area is really normal". A look at the utilization of the UKE over the past seven years, which lists a continuous utilization of between 79% and 91%, confirms this assessment.

However, the UKE is not representative as a maximum provider. At the smaller hospitals in the province, there are always larger regional fluctuations, especially in winter, and if there is a larger flu wave again, operations have to be postponed regularly and intensive care patients have to be moved to other houses.

This should actually be different "with Corona". That is why the Federal Ministry of Health has also provided the financial resources between March and September 2020 to massively increase the intensive capacities in order to cushion a possible peak in the coming winters. Each new bed was subsidized with 50,000 euros. 13,700 additional beds were to be created in this way. In addition, not a single bed was created by the clinics in total. On the contrary. While an average of around 30,000 beds were still reported to the intensive care register in the summer of 2020, there are currently only 22,230. Where are the new beds? And where are the beds that were still reported in the summer of last year?

At least the first question is easy to answer. "The devices are in the emergency camps," according to a spokesman of the Stuttgart Hospital, which, in addition to its 90 intensive care beds, has received a total of 209 new beds including equipment financed by the taxpayer. Other houses express similar opinions. There seems to be a misunderstanding here. There had never been any talk of these beds being operated. Rather, they can be thought of as a "buffer". The Federal Audit Office suspects "entrainment effects" here, the Board of Directors of the GKV-Spitzenverband is even outraged and demands criminal consequences. But that will go nowhere. Hospitals are not wrong. The gifts from Minister Spahn were distributed without the requirement that these beds must also be operated – another point in the very, very long list of complete failure in the corona policy.

There are currently 2,439 beds available. This is not really dramatic, although there are, of course, regional capacity problems. If there were an additional 13,700 beds available, you wouldn't really have to deal with the topic any further. Then the German houses could probably accommodate the Covid patients of the entire EU.

For example, we have 13,700 "additional" intensive care beds, for which the taxpayer has paid a proud 686 million euros, of which, according to Divi, 9,387 are stored in the basements of hospitals and which are listed as an "emergency reserve". Now not a day goes by when not some official talks about overflowing intensive care units and an allegedly threatening triage. Is this not an emergency? This question is irrelevant, since another, much bigger, policy failure comes into play here – it seems that they have completely "forgotten" that intensive care beds also have to be operated by staff, and staff are known to be lacking in all corners and ends throughout the hospital operation. Without the failures in the German health system, we would have been spared at least a large part of the patients who died last winter due to or with Corona. The fact that they didn't make sufficient preparations last year was a scandal. The fact that one has not reacted a year later is a crime without which there are consequences.

For decades, experts in medicine and nursing have been warning of this disaster. Nothing has happened, on the contrary, medicine is becoming more and more a provider of returns for corporations in which not infrequently such paranoid folk roles as Lauterbach are active. The state has provided the hospitals with a total of 15.3 billion euros in grants in the course of the pandemic. Where has this money gone? In any case, it was not used to increase the staff. And this can not only be blamed on hospital operators. If politics had linked these subsidies to personnel measures, things might have been different.

So we are once again facing a problem in autumn 2021. And this has nothing to do with the unvaccinated, to whom the whole failure of politics and the yield-oriented hospital operators is currently being blamed. The state of emergency is the rule on the wards and neither politics nor hospital operators are willing to change anything about it. It is no wonder that many nurses are now going up the hat cord.

Corona is not the reason for the constant state of emergency in the clinics. In the best case, however, Corona could be a burning glass that reveals this constant state of emergency, about which no one wants to know anything and against which no one wants to do anything. But this opportunity was also missed. After all, it is not the broken system, but the unvaccinated are to blame for the fact that another harsh winter threatens on the wards. And at least we can rely on one thing: no matter how hard the winter gets, no matter how many deaths there are – nothing will change about the state of emergency. Why? Because politics does not want to help, and the voter does not attach much importance to this issue. Or was the care situation at your last cross a decisive factor?