Pandemic costs Swiss hospitals CHF1.5 billion

Some hospitals were over-run with Covid patients at peaks times of the pandemic. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

The coronavirus pandemic forced hospitals to cancel non-emergency surgery, resulting in up to CHF1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) in lost income last year, according to one evaluation.

This content was published on June 4, 2021 - 14:50

Most of the losses were incurred during the first lockdown in the spring of 2020, says a study by consultancy firm PwC and the SpitalBenchmark Association, which monitors the finances of hospitals.

On Friday, the Hospitals Association H+ repeated demands for compensation, which had been rejected by health minister Alain Berset last year.

Some cantons have partially compensated hospitals but the federal authorities have so far refused to follow suit.

The financial losses are estimated to be between CHF1.3 billion and CHF1.5 billion, mostly as a result of hospitals being ordered by the government to stop non-emergency procedures for six weeks in the early stages of the pandemic last year.

This figure has been downgraded from the CHF1.7 billion to CHF2.1 billion sum estimated by a similar study by the same authors in December.

The pandemic overloaded some hospitals with seriously ill patients during wave peaks, resulting in a government order for a general freeze on elective procedures.

Doctors’ surgeries also saw less patients during the early phases of the pandemic as many people stayed at home rather than visit GPs with complaints. A survey last summer found that 42% of surgeries reported “significantly” eroded income.

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