Switzerland’s hospitals and clinics are facing a financial loss of between CHF1.7 billion ($1.7 billion) and CHF2.9 billion due to the Covid-19 pandemic, initial figures show.
The evaluation, commissioned by the H+ Swiss Hospitals association and released on Friday, is the first national assessment of the expected financial impact of the crisis for healthcare facilities. Several cantons – which oversee health matters – had already signaled their concerns.
H+ said there were two reasons for the loss: the first was that hospitals, which have been on the front line of caring for coronavirus-affected patients, had needed to hire extra staff and source medical supplies, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In addition, non-urgent procedures were suspended over seven weeks during the government-ordered lockdown, which started in mid-March. This represented 80% of the revenue losses, H+ said.
+ Swiss hospitals reportedly running out of money
Who plugs the financial gap?
Interior Minister Alain Berset, who holds the health portfolio for the government, said this week that elective surgeries had not been cancelled, only delayed. His remarks have been taken to mean that the government will not step in to plug the financial gap for hospitals, according to a report by the Swiss national broadcaster RTS.
Several cantons, while expecting that they would have to provide financial support, had hoped for some federal funding because it was the government that had ordered certain procedures stopped during the pandemic to free up care capacity for coronavirus patients.
H+ said it was calling for urgent national discussions to decide how costs will be covered. This is expected to take place after the summer.
Slow return to normal
“The loss is very high, this should cause reflection but also prompt the need to act quickly,” H+ director Anne-Geneviève Bütikofer,told RTS. Talks needed to be held, she said.
“It’s hard to imagine that we can catch up [on elective procedures] the next few weeks or months, because the infrastructure has not returned to running at its full capacity,” she said. “Hospitals are not fully up and running, patients are still cautious about coming back, hygiene measures still need to be followed, so we can’t go back to how we were before the pandemic. The aim is to get back to full activity by the end of the year.
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