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Nurse with examination instruments in a clinic: "If you do something often, you can simply do it better"

Photo: Stefan Puchner / dpa

The statutory health insurance companies (GKV) are pushing for the implementation of the controversial hospital reform – and are also proposing a stronger concentration of the network. "With about 1250 clinics that already exist, good care in Germany would be ensured," said Stefanie Stoff-Ahnis, board member of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, explaining the call for a stronger concentration of the network. This is evident from a model of the association, which is based on a current network of 1675 houses.

The other clinics would have to explain what they would be needed for in the future, said Stoff-Ahnis. From the patient's point of view, it is important to say: "Any hospital is not enough to be cared for." If you are quickly in a bad clinic, this is of no use.

It has to be about the patient – not about the clinic

What is needed is a "nationwide uniform planning language" for quality and needs. This would mean that complex operations would be concentrated at suitable clinics instead of being performed at "occasional providers". The goal is: "If you do something often, you can simply do it better".

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had spoken after consultations with the states on Thursday of a breakthrough for the plans. The plan is to draft a bill over the summer so that the reform can come into force in early 2024. However, many problems are still unresolved, much has been postponed in the dispute with the countries.

Among other things, it is planned to introduce uniform quality criteria and classifications of the network with appropriate funding. In addition, the remuneration system with lump sums for treatment cases is to be changed in order to relieve hospitals of economic pressure. In the future, they will receive secure financing solely for the provision of certain services.

GKV board member Stoff-Ahnis campaigned for the hospital reform to come about. There must also be more discussion about where the opportunities lie. Change does not only mean downsizing, this could also result in investments in new departments at certain locations. So far, the debate has often been conducted from the perspective of the clinics. But it has to be about: "How does the patient get to the hospital – not how does the hospital get to its patients."