Doctor in conversation – personnel crisis: ‘Many cases go wrong in the hospital’


Martin Sprenger, physician and scientist at MedUni Graz, speaks in the “Krone” interview about workforce planning failures and where the roots of the healthcare crisis lie.

„krone“:How could the staff shortage in hospitals become so dire?
Martin Sprenger: There were many omissions. Workforce planning is a matter of years, if not decades. For example, we now have a wave of retirements. The dates of birth of the staff are no secret. At the same time, demand has increased, people are aging and diseases are becoming more complex. But I also have to say that a lack of staff is not the right term.

It’s more of a distribution problem, everyone is struggling for staff, public and private sector. What is also not discussed enough: we have an extremely labour-intensive outpatient clinic. For example, we have three times as many beds per 1000 inhabitants as Scandinavian countries.

Does this mean that care can be expanded beyond hospitals?
We just fail to see our supply system as a whole. We have inefficient care in the private sector, causing far too many cases to end up in hospital unnecessarily. Up to two-thirds of the patients in the outpatient clinics are actually wrong there.

What will this development lead to?
We must massively strengthen care outside hospitals. Primary care centers are a good example. And in general we will see an increasing privatization of the system, more than three million Austrians are already privately insured.

The increase in medical study places is often mentioned as a central measure. Turn right?
In an OECD comparison, Austria tops the list when it comes to practicing doctors. We don’t train too few people. Among other things, as I said, there is a problem with distribution and very massively with the attractiveness of employers in the healthcare sector.

Source: Krone


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