GP surgeries across Germany to remain closed on Monday due to strike
Thousands of doctors’ surgeries across Germany will remain closed on Monday, October 2, as GPs and specialist doctors protest against the government’s healthcare policies.
GPs across Germany closed on Monday, October 2
The protest action, which was called by Virchowbund, an association of general practitioners and specialists, along with almost 20 other medical associations and statutory health insurers, is expected to affect around 1 million healthcare providers across Germany on Monday.
Since Tuesday, October 3, is a nationwide public holiday, there is a risk of long waiting times for routine appointments this week, although the Virchowbund assured that there would be coverage nationwide for medical emergencies. If you can’t wait until Wednesday to see a GP, you should call the emergency number 116 117.
German doctors accuse government of enforcing austerity
According to Virchowbund’s chairperson, Dirk Heinrich, the protest is a pushback against “painful austerity measures” that the government has been enforcing within the German healthcare system. “Practices are now so strangled by various regulations, but especially by restrictions on billing options, that they have to limit services because they can no longer finance them,” Heinrich told Tagesschau.
One particular policy that has been singled out for criticism is the government’s scrapping of the “new patient regulation”, which offered GP surgeries financial incentives to take on new patients. The policy was scrapped this year as part of cost-saving measures, with Health Minister Lauterbach saying that the cost-to-benefit ratio for the regulation was way off.
However, the Virchowbund has lashed out at the minister, saying that the lack of funding makes it harder for them to provide services. Appointments are getting shorter while waiting times are becoming longer, and at the same time, practices are struggling with rising costs for salaries, energy and supplies. The recent 3,85-percent readjustment of the fees paid to doctors' surgeries by health insurers was dismissed by the association as insufficient at a time when inflation is remaining at 5 to 6 percent.
Lauterbach says GPs just want more money
Lauterbach kicked back, however, writing on X (formerly Twitter) that “like pharmacists”, GPs were striking because they “want more money”. He pointed out that the median salary for a GP was 230.000 euros per year, once costs are deducted, and posed the rhetorical question: “Should the contribution rate for employees increase so that the fees [paid to doctors] continue to rise?”
The Virchowbund has warned that Monday’s action could be a “prelude to further protests” should their concerns fall on deaf ears.
Image credit: adiekoetter / Shutterstock.com