Critical staffing shortage puts pressure on Munich hospitals

Critical staffing shortage puts pressure on Munich hospitals

The already tense staffing situation in hospitals in Munich will continue to worsen over the coming years, a new study has found. By 2029, the Bavarian city could be short of as many as 2.100 nurses - and, in the meantime, dissatisfaction within the profession is growing. 

Munich hospitals short-staffed

The study, presented to Munich’s city council last week, confirms that the shortage of nurses in Munich will continue to increase in the future, so much so that within 10 years the city is expected to have a desperate lack of care workers. By 2029, an estimated 2.100 posts will be unfilled 

The analysis of the staffing situation in Munich’s hospitals was commissioned nearly three years ago by the city council, and since then, surveys of 1.261 nurses and 307 nursing students have been conducted. Their enquiries laid bare the critical staffing shortages faced by the healthcare system in Munich. 

Nurses in Germany overworked

According to their report, at Munich’s 52 hospital locations with more than 11.300 beds, almost 500.000 inpatient cases were recorded in 2016. Taking care of these patients were just under 8.000 full-time nurses. On average, a nurse took care of nine patients during the day-time shift and 22 patients during night shifts. 

75 percent of the respondents worked more than 15 overtime hours in the month prior to the survey. The reasons most commonly given for this were that other colleagues were away on sick leave or simply that they were understaffed due to unfilled vacancies

Increasing number of caregivers express dissatisfaction

Perhaps as a result of these staffing shortages, the survey also uncovered a growing dissatisfaction among the nurses with their profession. While more than three-quarters of those surveyed expressed that they found the work varied and interesting, more than half felt that they did not have enough time to look after the patients as they saw fit. 

A further 76 percent expressed dissatisfaction with their salary, 66 percent with the recognition they receive, and 53 percent with the workload. More than a third had thought about abandoning their job within the last year, and the same number of people were thinking about finding a new job in nursing. Particular pressure points for these groups were low income, too high workload and the high cost of living in Munich.

Housing and working conditions must improve

The report’s authors argue that the situation can only be alleviated by reducing the workload and overtime hours worked by Munich’s nurses. Working conditions in care must be made more attractive in order to prevent caregivers from leaving their careers early and to encourage more to enter the profession. Together with hospital operators, the health department needs to counteract the lack of suitable housing for nurses. 

In addition, the report argues that efforts must be made to diminish the need for nurses. This could be done, for example, by supporting nurses with extra staff or technical aids. Additionally, the number of patients requiring hospital treatment should be significantly reduced. “About 20 percent of all hospital cases in Germany can be avoided by better patient care from doctors, disease prevention and emergency management,” they claimed. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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