It has been unclear for years whether the university clinics in Heidelberg and Mannheim should become a joint large clinic.

A joint medical school and board responsible for both campuses would then be formed.

The green-black state government only wants to create a loose hospital network for fear of high costs and overcapacity in the wards.

Ruediger Soldt

Political correspondent in Baden-Württemberg.

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The merger supporters at the universities in Heidelberg and Mannheim, on the other hand, want to create a location that can compete with the Berlin Charité, Harvard or Boston before the next Excellence Initiative.

In contrast to the rapid formation of a large hospital network, the argument goes, the economic and scientific opportunities of digitization and medical research based on "Big Data" remain largely untapped.

Hanns-Peter Knaebel, Chairman of the University Council of the Heidelberg University Hospital, formerly a surgeon and CEO of the medical technology manufacturer Aesculap, believes that a close association is the decisive prerequisite for the healthcare industry to actually become “another solid industrial pillar” in the federal state.

"What we need is the decision to merge." It could help reassign more than 10,000 jobs from the automotive industry.

The cooperation is already progressing

Together with the Rector of Heidelberg University Bernhard Eitel, Mannheim Mayor Peter Kurz, the Managing Director of the Mannheim University Hospital Hans-Jürgen Hennes and the Vice Dean of the Medical Faculty in Heidelberg Wolfgang Wick, Knaebel once again called on the state government to make a decision.

The company audit was also positive.

But the collaboration is already progressing.

On December 16, the founding of the "Research Alliance for Life and Health Economy" is notarized for both locations, then the Central Institute for Mental Health, the German Cancer Research Center, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and the Molecular Biological Institute EMBL form their research capacities .

Many see the large clinic as the ideal complement.

"Not to use this potential to become a hotspot on the map of Europe and beyond in research, patient care and the medical industry would mean wasting a unique opportunity," said Eitel.

There is no complete clarity about the total merger costs: The auditors estimate them at around 60 million euros.

The previously municipally managed Mannheim clinic will post an annual deficit of 30 million euros by 2030.

In addition, independent of the merger, there are necessary construction measures at both locations: Mannheim needs a new ward block for 800 million euros - Heidelberg a new head clinic for 600 million euros.

A spokeswoman for the green-black government said that the Rhine-Neckar region should become a "beacon of health and life sciences" and that the innovation campus there had been funded with 50.7 million euros.

However, it must be carefully examined what needs-based patient care should look like.

As soon as the legal checks have been completed and a report from the Ministry of Social Affairs is available, a decision will be made on how the decision in principle from spring 2022 will be “strategically” implemented for a hospital network.