'Stingy': Why some Swiss GPs are not carrying out Covid vaccinations
A funding dispute between the federal government and GPs has meant thousands of Swiss family doctors are reluctant or are flat out refusing to carry out vaccinations.
Along with vaccination centres, hospitals and some pharmacies, vaccinations have been possible in family doctors in Switzerland for several weeks.
However, in most cantons only a handful of doctors carry out vaccinations, primarily because of the costs associated with administering the jabs.
Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes reported that a GP practice in Muotathal is one of many to have told its patients that it will not be carrying out vaccinations due to “non medical reasons”.
"We cannot give any convincing medical-scientific reason why a vaccination should be carried out at this point in time with one of the vaccines that are now available."
The issue is financial.
Felix Huber, a doctor and president of Medix, an association of regional networks of doctors, said it has resulted in a “shameful patchwork”.
"The approach that was chosen for the remuneration of general practitioners is a highly complex cantonal patchwork that we must be ashamed of."
"The remuneration also leads to massive delays in the vaccination strategy," Huber said.
General practitioners in Switzerland receive CHF24.50 per patient.
According to Huber, “most general practitioners' practices cannot afford to hire additional staff with this stingy compensation.”
Huber said the amount should be raised to CHF50 - and that the lack of compensation has been a major reason for the slower rollout of the vaccination drive.
"If the federal government and the cantons had had general practitioners vaccinated right from the start and paid a uniform fee of at least 50 francs, we would be much further along with our vaccination strategy," he said.
"Any general practitioner practice that does not participate in the vaccination campaign due to the complicated and insufficient remuneration will delay the vaccination campaign further.”
While some cantons have agreed to supplement the amount paid by the federal government, others at this stage have not.
Tobias Bär, a spokesperson for the conference of health directors, defended the tariffs, saying they were a product of agreement between the cantons and insurance companies.
“The cantons and health insurers agreed on an addendum to the collective bargaining agreement in February,” he told 20 Minutes.
“We are of the opinion that with this tariff adjustment for the medical practices, cantonal negotiations on additional compensation no longer have to be conducted. The flat rate does not cover every individual case, but the bottom line is that a reasonable compromise has been found. "
Bär also said that “logistical considerations” also played a role in preventing family doctors from vaccinating in many cantons.