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Lack of doctors means future supply risk

Lack of doctors means future supply risk

Medical shortage: Medical supply risk in Germany
27.12.2013

According to a current study, around 2,600 general practices are missing in Germany. There is also a shortage of specialists. A medical supply risk is particularly imminent in rural regions.

Thousands of medical practices are lacking In rural regions of Germany, the lack of general practitioners and specialists is becoming a risk for basic medical care. According to statistics from the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), there are a lack of around 2,600 general practitioner offices across Germany that, according to the needs of medical associations, would be needed to ensure primary care, especially in rural areas. According to information from the “Welt”, this is the result of a survey by the KBV in August. In addition, there would be a lack of around 2,000 specialist practices, including 1,250 practices for psychotherapists alone.

Doctors urgently needed for basic care "The numbers show how urgently we need doctors for the basic care of local citizens," KBV spokesman Roland Stahl told Die Welt. In view of the gaps in medical care, the health insurance physicians had already readjusted their needs planning together with health insurance companies, clinics and patient representatives, particularly in rural areas, in early 2013. With a more detailed planning, the actual need for care should be recorded more precisely in order to use recruitment attempts to locate doctors in the country in a more targeted manner.

Desired success has so far failed to materialize. However, the interim results now available show that the desired success has so far failed to materialize. "With planning alone, no new doctor can be won," says Stahl. There are around 52,000 general practitioners and around 66,400 specialist practices nationwide, including approximately 22,000 psychotherapeutic practices. The majority of medical professionals prefer medium-sized cities and metropolises, especially to use the existing infrastructure there, such as childcare or leisure activities. In contrast, many practices are vacant in rural areas. Because of the age structure, many doctors retire there and the practices are then insufficiently filled. Another consequence of this is that pharmacies and physiotherapists are also lacking because they rely on a corresponding number of general practitioners' offices.

Sales guarantees and investment aids According to estimates by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, around 51,000 general practitioners and specialists will retire nationwide by 2021. The medical associations have been trying to counteract this for years, but the gaps in supply persist. "The statutory health insurance associations are already doing a great deal to attract doctors to the branch," said Stahl. For example, doctors would offer sales guarantees and investment aids from the associations. “Some set up complete practices. But the attractiveness of the location is also crucial, ”said the KBV spokesman. "Here, municipalities have to do location marketing like the establishment of businesses."

New Federal Minister of Health is in demand In future, the new Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe (CDU) will also be asked to help solve the problem. In order to ensure the nationwide supply, the incentives to settle in underserved areas should be improved, it says in the black and red coalition agreement. The coalitioners added: "This is why we will reduce unnecessary bureaucratic requirements and make the framework conditions for admissions for doctors and psychotherapists more flexible." The admission of hospitals to outpatient care in underserved areas should also be made easier.

Germany is one of the international leaders in terms of density of doctors The Institute of German Business (IW) in Cologne currently sees no shortage of doctors in Germany. In the coming years, around 6,600 doctors will leave their careers every year. "However, there are around 10,000 graduates of human medicine each year," says a statement from the IW a few months ago. With the population remaining the same, the number of doctors rose by 92,000 between 1999 and 2011. "For the time being, the Germans do not need to worry about their medical care," it continues. At least 31,000 foreign doctors are currently practicing in Germany. The IW reports that some of them are German citizens who have studied abroad due to high admission requirements. When it comes to the number of doctors with 3.84 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, Germany is among the leaders in international comparison. (ad)

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