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Federal Health Minister: Lauterbach wants better conditions for family doctors

Federal Health Minister: Lauterbach wants better conditions for family doctors
Federal Health Minister: Lauterbach wants better conditions for family doctors

The local GP practice is an important point of contact for many people – but the network is in danger of thinning out. Can a reform secure care?

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wants to tackle the growing shortage of general practitioners with better working conditions.

“We have too few GPs, they are poorly distributed, and we have a great need ahead of us,” said the SPD politician on Friday when introducing a draft bill in the Bundestag. Among other things, this would remove upper limits on remuneration for GPs, as is already the case for paediatricians.

If there are too few GPs anyway, it is not acceptable not to pay them for all the services they provide, said Lauterbach. The law is intended to make the profession more attractive for doctors in view of the 5,000 vacant GP positions and to maintain the practice network as waves of retirement approach.

Criticism from the opposition

The Union health expert Tino Sorge (CDU) complained that a lot had been announced, but that the law had been gutted. The question arose as to why remuneration limits for specialists were not also lifted.

An annual flat rate for treating chronically ill patients is also to be introduced for GPs. This is intended to avoid visits to the practice every quarter just to pick up prescriptions and to create more freedom for treatment. A new “flat rate” is to be paid to practices that meet certain criteria – for example for home and nursing home visits or evening consultations.

There has recently been no decline in the number of general practitioners. According to the Federal Medical Register, at the end of 2023 there were 51,389, 75 more than at the end of 2022. Ten years earlier, however, there were 52,262. Among general practitioners, the proportion of people over 60 is also particularly high at 37 percent.

Digital information and comparison offer

According to the draft, psychotherapeutic services for children and young people are also to be improved. A new group of doctors is to be formed to plan needs. A digital information and comparison service is to be provided for those with statutory health and long-term care insurance. Figures on approvals and rejections of certain services are to be available, for example. It is to be easier for municipalities to set up medical care centers (MVZ) in which doctors work under one roof.

In order to get the project underway, Lauterbach had separated out some points that were controversial within the coalition. However, they are to be raised again in the parliamentary deliberations. These include “health kiosks”, i.e. easily accessible advice centers for treatment and prevention in areas with many socially disadvantaged people. Lauterbach also wants to campaign for an end to homeopathic services at the expense of health insurance companies.

Source: Stern

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