Respiratory infections: “The care situation for children is currently alarming”

Science respiratory infections

“The care situation for children is currently alarming”

Significant increase in RSV diseases – children’s hospitals at the limit

With the RS virus and the flu, two waves of illness are causing long queues in front of doctor’s surgeries, full hospital beds and staff at the limit. All over Germany paediatricians are sounding the alarm.

Because of the wave of respiratory infections, many children’s hospitals are overcrowded, and practices are also overloaded. The child protection association and Greens health politician Janosch Dahmen call for quick action. Emergency physicians also speak of a “dramatic situation”.

Dhe German Child Protection Association has called for a “quick financial emergency program” for children’s clinics. “It’s a feeling of complete powerlessness. The lack of child care is very dramatic. I’m really appalled that it was allowed to come to this,” President Heinz Hilgers told the editorial network Germany (RND).

Because of a wave of respiratory infections, many children’s hospitals are currently overcrowded. The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) already spoke of a “catastrophic situation” in the children’s intensive care units.

In Hilger’s view, the current crisis is the result of “decades of neglect” by politicians. Due to a lack of skilled workers, it “cannot be managed in the short term”.

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According to Hilgers, there have been warnings about such an overload in clinics and medical practices for years. Unfortunately, no improvements were made “due to the exclusively business orientation of the system, which is designed for full utilization”.

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The Greens health expert Janosch Dahmen told the German Press Agency that measures are now needed to improve the care of children in the short term. The coordination of free hospital beds must be expanded. In children’s wards, specialists from other areas could take on simple tasks. Outpatient offers in emergency practices should be expanded.

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A patient suffering from the respiratory syncytial virus (RS virus or RSV) lies in a sickbed in a children's ward of the Olgahospital of the Stuttgart Clinic

“The care situation for children in clinics and medical practices is currently alarming,” said Dahmen. There is a need in many hospitals. This is the result of seasonal increases in respiratory diseases and increasing staff shortages.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has already announced relief measures. Nursing staff are to be transferred from adult wards to children’s wards.

A child suffering from the respiratory syncytial virus (RS virus or RSV) is lying in a children's ward in the Stuttgart Clinic

A child suffering from the respiratory syncytial virus (RS virus or RSV) is lying in a children’s ward in the Stuttgart Clinic

Source: dpa/Marijan Murat

He called on the health insurance companies not to check staffing requirements for the time being and to suspend sanctions. He also appealed to parents and paediatricians to postpone check-ups that are not immediately necessary.

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Currently, November 29th, 2022, Berlin, Federal Minister of Health Prof. Dr.  A portrait of Karl Lauterbach at the press conference on current health policy issues at the Federal Ministry of Health in Berlin

On Friday, the Bundestag passed a package of laws on hospitals that is intended to bring more money for children’s clinics and relief for urgently needed nursing staff. There should be an additional 300 million euros each for children’s hospitals in 2023 and 2024.

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