The President of the Swiss Health Director Conference fears the impact of the coronavirus will lead to increases in health premiums in Switzerland.
Lukas Engelberger (Christian Democrats) said significant changes will need to be made by insurance companies and health authorities in order to avoid a rise in premiums from 2021.
As a result, Engelberger predicted that there would be no rises in wages for nurses in the foreseeable future.
Speaking with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on Tuesday, Engelberger said the pandemic has had a significant impact on hospital operations – and will continue to do so in the short to medium term.
“The cost pressure will not simply go away – on the contrary. Higher health insurance expenditure is particularly painful”.
Engelberger pointed out that the additional costs incurred due to the virus – for instance through the need to carry out testing – would need to be made back in other ways.
Hospitals need more space for potential surges in coronavirus patients
A major consequence of the coronavirus outbreak is that hospitals needed to direct more resources to fighting the virus, whether that be among active patients or to set aside space to cater for new waves of the virus.
“You will have to compromise on cost efficiency” Engelberger said.
“The security of supply – and the possibility to increase capacity at short notice – will be given more weight in the future.”
As a result, several cost-cutting measures would be put in place.
Engelberger said he envisioned fewer operations “where there is currently an oversupply”, including hip and knee replacements.
No wage increases – although doctors could be asked to earn less
Despite being literally applauded across the country for their efforts in battling the pandemic, nurses and hospital staff were unlikely to see wage increases in the future due to the cost pressures placed on hospitals.
“There is not the budget to pay more money to healthcare workers”.
Engelberger however said that if extra money was needed to pay healthcare workers, it could be taken out of the pocket of “overpaid” doctors.
“In some disciplines, medical work is probably overpaid today.”
The Swiss government is expected to sit down with hospitals and insurance companies – along with representatives from the cantons – to devise a strategy to tackle cost increases.