Germany’s shortage of nursing staff continues to worsen
Germany is suffering from a shortage of medical staff that has continued to get worse over the course of 2021. In intensive care units, 12 percent of job positions remain vacant.
Germany’s ongoing nursing shortage
Germany has been facing a shortage of nursing staff in its hospitals for a number of years now, and this shortage worsened over the course of last year. In 2021, there were around 14.000 positions for registered nursing staff in clinics around Germany that remained vacant, with an additional 8.000 vacant jobs in intensive care units.
The chairman of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gaß, revealed that the number of vacancies for regular nurses equated to about 6 percent of all job positions in the normal wards, while the number of vacancies in the intensive care units equated to about 12 percent.
According to Gaß, the shortage of staff has gotten exponentially worse in recent years, with there only being around 3.900 vacancies in normal wards five years ago.
No reserve staff in German hospitals
Gaß has admitted that it has been hard trying to fill so many vacancies. "We have practically no reserves to compensate for staff shortages," he said. “This is a very difficult situation, especially in times of continuously high stress.” The lack of reserve staff is the reason why some intensive care facilities had to be either temporarily or permanently closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past year, it took an average of 17 weeks for a regular nursing vacancy to be filled by a skilled worker, while it took 21 weeks for an intensive specialist vacancy to be filled.
There are many reasons for the shortage of workers, Gaß explained, with one such reason being that baby boomers have either retired, or are going into early retirement. Furthermore, a growing number of employees are taking more time off for parental leave, and nurses based in cities are having to cover for the lack of nurses in rural areas; often stretching the workforce to its limits. This leads to a downward spiral, as many of the remaining nurses then quit their jobs due to increased workloads.