BONN The number of incidents involving Bonn’s emergency services has risen sharply in recent years. The city of Bonn is increasing the number of staff and vehicles and costs have almost doubled.
Bonn’s emergency services will be more expensive than anticipated. The city will have to pay almost 6.7 million Euros more to the relief organisations and the company Falck, who share the emergency services in Bonn, for the second half of 2018. Costs have almost doubled in comparison with previous years. The fees are completely offset through health insurance schemes. However, their increase is reflected in the premiums of those insured.
A glance at the budget plan for 2019 only partially reveals why emergency services have become so expensive for the city of Bonn. The biggest price drivers are “goods and services” for which almost six million Euros were due in 2016. From the coming year, the city administration will have to budget for 15.6 million Euros and from 2023, a million more.
Shortage of emergency paramedics
These are figures that conceal a greatly changed emergency service. Not only have the number of incidents rapidly increased – from 28,000 to 37,000 within five years – but staff has also become more expensive, above all because of a change in the law governing emergency paramedics. Current paramedics will become emergency paramedics. However, their training takes three years, whereas previously only two years were needed.
The service providers pass the costs of this longer training directly on to the municipalities and thus to the city of Bonn. “There is a shortage of emergency paramedics as with daycare centres,” says Stefanie Zießnitz from the Bonn press office. Fewer resources in the labour market mean that aid organisations and the private rescue company Falck were competing for limited staff, “and must also make them higher offers.”
Georg Fenninger from the German Red Cross (DRK) in Bonn also reports that the job market is tense. The aid organisation provides emergency services in the city alongside the Workers Samaritan Association, the Maltesers and the Falck company. In order to cope with the number of incidents, staff and vehicles have been increased in the new emergency services requirement plan. There are three new rescue vehicles– previously there were 14 – and ten additional ambulances.
Two new command posts will be set up in the control centre on Lievelingsweg. An emergency service base will also be set up in the south of Bad Godesberg to allow the “time to assistance” deadline of eight minutes to be met. 25 training places per year for emergency paramedics are also new. A system for electronic patient data collection will also be introduced.
Cost explosion in Bonn
The explosion in costs is not only affecting Bonn, as Sigrid Averesch-Tietz from the Association of Health Insurance Funds explains. “We welcome measures that benefit patients and help improve the high quality of emergency services,” she says. “However, we are critical that the number of incidents has been rising for years.” One reason is that the rescue services are called out more and more often when there is no emergency. This misuse, even if unintentional, not only blocks rescue facilities, but also overburdens staff. “This negative development will lead to costs increasing further.”
(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach. Translation: kc)