Healthcare workers seek partial unemployment benefits

With less surgeries taking place, some doctors and healthcare professionals don't have enough work. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

With the ban on non-emergency surgeries and other procedures, some Swiss hospitals and medical practices are applying for partial unemployment support for at least 20,000 healthcare workers.

This content was published on April 2, 2020 - 12:34

On Thursday, the German language TagesAnzeiger newspaper reported that due to the social distancing restrictions and ban on non-urgent medical procedures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, some doctors and other healthcare professionals don’t have enough work.

Many public and private hospitals have made personnel available to help cantons in the Covid-19 response, but those outside these fields face different prospects.

Raymond Loretan, chairman of the board of directors of the second largest private hospital group, Swiss Medical Network, told the paper that the group had to introduce short-time work in almost all 21 hospitals, affecting two-thirds of the 3,000 employees.

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The Hirslanden Group, the largest chain of private hospitals in Switzerland, with 10,000 employees and 2,300 affiliated doctors, has also applied for partial unemployment. Many of those affected are administrative and accommodation staff but those involved in the operating room are facing a lack of work.

Rehabilitation clinics are particularly affected with the utilization of clinics part of the Swiss-Reha network down by three-quarters. Willy Oggier, President of Swiss-Reha, said, "If the state causes a loss of income through its measures to tackle the pandemic, then it should replace it."

Some public hospitals are also affected. The Aargau and Zug cantonal hospitals have introduced short-time work. The University Hospital Basel has introduced short-time work for employees in research and administration. However, doctors and nursing staff are currently trying to deploy people as much as possible to avoid unemployment, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Loretan from the Swiss Medical Network told the newspaper that the government’s decision to stop non-urgent surgeries was the right one but indicated that it is now important to consider how to reintroduce non-emergency surgeries step by step. 

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