The priorities for health and social care policy in Germany are placed under the spotlight here by Open Access Government, including the Federal Minister of Health’s ambitions for the elderly care sector
Jens Spahn has held the position of Federal Minister of Health in Germany since March 2018, but he has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2002. After training as a banker, he took on the role Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister
of Finance between 2013 and 2018. This article will look at his recent efforts to boost the quality of care in Germany, including improving the daily lives of caregivers through better staffing and better working conditions in the elderly care sector.
In recent news from the Ministry, we learn about the introduction of the appointment service and supply law (TSVG), which ensures that patients in Germany can get medical appointments faster. Under this law, more consultation hours are expected to be offered. Commenting on this important policy development, Minister Spahn says: “We ensure that insured persons in the future get a doctor’s appointment faster. Doctors who help us to improve care should be paid higher and outside the budget.” (1)
In other news, we learn that the bill to strengthen nursing staff was approved by the German Cabinet on 1st August 2018. The aim of this policy is to achieve improvements in the daily lives of caregivers through better staffing and better working conditions in the elderly care sector. Minister Spahn provides his detailed thoughts on this important healthcare development in Germany: “As of January 2019, 13,000 nurses can be hired in inpatient care facilities. And: any additional or increased nursing job in hospitals will be fully funded by health insurance. Collective pay increases in hospital care will also be fully covered by the payers, retroactively from 2018. The immediate care programme is a first important step towards improving care. We are thus taking care of the care directly and noticeably under the arms. Something is happening in nursing – with this signal we want to support nurses in their daily work, to gain new nurses and to further improve the nursing care of the patients. And further steps will follow soon.” (2)
On the subject of care, we find out that the federal government in Germany wants to inspire more people to work in the care sector. Minister Spahn along with Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Dr. med. Franziska Giffey and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil are making a joint effort in this vein. The intention here is to significantly improve the day-to-day work and working conditions
of caregivers and to relieve the burden on nurses and strengthen training in the nursing sector. Together with the leading minds of the social system and the relevant actors of care, the three Ministers agreed that concrete measures must be developed in the very near future.
Providing his own perspective on this important health and social care policy step forward, Minister Spahn stresses that good care means affection, but this takes time and staff hours as well. “That’s why we start the Concerted Action Care. We want to get more people to take up this responsible job. We want to encourage caregivers to get back into work or to work full-time again. The nurses in our country are doing great things for our society every day. For this, they deserve more appreciation in the job, good working conditions and fair pay”, he adds. (3)
To further reduce new infections with the HIV virus in Germany, Minister Spahn submitted a bill in July 2018 by which statutory health insurance funds will take on preventive medicine (PREP) for high-risk patients, including the associated medical advice and medical examinations that take place. Commenting on this aspect of care, the Minister comments: “Germany is one of the countries with the lowest HIV infection rates in Europe. But we want to further reduce the number of new infections. People with an increased risk of infection should receive a legal claim to medical consultation, examination and drugs for pre-exposure prophylaxis.” (4)
Finally, in June this year, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn invited five start-ups for a dialogue with the Federal Ministry of Health. Together, they discussed visions and ideas on how digitisation can noticeably improve health care. At the time, the Minister said: “For me, it’s important for us to shape the processes of digitisation in health care and not simply accept what has already started in other parts of the world. That is why we promote the exchange between the founder scene and politics with ‘Innovation Meets Politics’”. (5)
4 https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/ministerium/meld –
5 https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/ministerium/meld –