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Hamburg's nurses are burdened by Corona like never before

In 2022, nursing professionals in the inpatient area suffered particularly badly from Corona and the consequences of the pandemic.

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Hamburg's nurses are burdened by Corona like never before

In 2022, nursing professionals in the inpatient area suffered particularly badly from Corona and the consequences of the pandemic. This emerges from the current care report presented today by the Barmer replacement fund.

Accordingly, at the beginning of the year and in July last year there were numerous sick leave due to a Covid 19 diagnosis. The previous peak value was in February 2022 at 157 sick people per 10,000 nursing staff in Hamburg nursing homes. In addition to Corona, the staff were often unable to work due to mental illnesses. According to this, nursing professionals in Hamburg nursing homes were almost four times as likely to be mentally ill in the summer of 2022 as other workers.

"The corona pandemic has shown us the weak points of the system," says the state manager of Barmer in Hamburg, Susanne Klein. Nursing staff would have worked under difficult conditions due to the staff shortages caused by the pandemic and due to necessary hygiene measures such as the obligation to wear masks. "They went far beyond their limits," says Klein. She demands: “For the future we not only need effective protection concepts, but also more attractive working conditions for nursing staff. To do this, we have to relieve them in a targeted manner and equip them better. This is the only way we can continue to guarantee care in our city in the future.”

The first two corona waves also caused many infections among those in need of care in Hamburg's homes. During the second wave alone at the end of 2020, according to the health insurance company, their share was almost nine percent. For comparison: The infection rate in the general population at that time was just over one percent. A disproportionately high increase in the number of deceased with care level 5 in Hamburg shows that this group was particularly affected, according to the Barmer report. According to this, almost 50 percent more inpatients died in 2021 than in the pre-pandemic year of 2017.

“In the meantime, Corona has lost the initial shock for many. The protective measures have largely been shut down. However, there are still particularly vulnerable groups in nursing homes. We therefore need effective protection concepts with a sense of proportion for those who are particularly in need of protection," says Klein.

As can also be seen from the care report, fewer people in need of care were cared for in inpatients in the first year of the pandemic. In Hamburg, their number fell by a good 16 percent compared to 2019. The reasons for this were therefore the restricted access to care facilities and the concern of relatives that they would not be able to visit their loved ones if they were placed in a care home.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, fewer people came to the nursing home because the relatives were afraid for their health. The vaccinations and compliance with the rules of distance and hygiene have significantly reduced the risk of death from corona," says Klein. It is all the more important to arm the nursing homes for further corona waves. "In addition, contingency plans should be made in the event that other virus variants prevail, which may lead to severe courses again."

The pandemic is also having a massive impact on the financial situation of social long-term care insurance. Additional expenditure by outpatient and inpatient care facilities, for example for materials and staff, was offset by reduced income, among other things due to unoccupied places in the home. According to Barmer, since March 2020 the facilities have been submitting applications to the long-term care insurance funds for reimbursement amounting to billions. By the end of 2022, the additional costs for care rescue packages, antigen tests and the corona care premium amounted to around twelve billion euros. According to Barmer, tax subsidies and repayments only offset seven billion euros by the end of 2022. In view of the already tense situation, state head Klein calls on the federal government to reimburse this sum to the social long-term care insurance as soon as possible.

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