Swiss hospitals face tight financial outlook

Ultra-modern equipment: doesn’t come cheap. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Consultancy firm PwC reckons the Swiss healthcare sector will need to recruit some 40,000 nurses by 2040, the NZZ am Sonntag reports.

This content was published on October 9, 2022 - 18:16

An annual report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which looks at the financial state of Swiss hospitals, also predictsExternal link that 5,500 doctors will be needed, and that staff shortages are also possible in support functions like IT and human resources.

The reasons for the future shortfall include demographic trends (i.e. the ageing population), increasing numbers of patients with comorbid conditions, and the stagnating numbers of immigrants with health-care skills coming to Switzerland.

Cost shock

The report also paints a bleak picture of the post-pandemic financial situation in Swiss hospitals – “only a quarter [of which] are really healthy”, PwC’s Patrick Schwendener told the NZZ am Sonntag. Inflation, staff demands for salary increases, and rising energy costs risk sending many hospitals into financial difficulties, he said.

Anne Bütikofer, the director of the Association of Swiss Hospitals (H+), told the paper that hospitals and clinics expecting energy bills to rise by between 40% and even 300%, while equipment costs are also predicted to climb by 3-5%. Meanwhile, staff are demanding wage increases of 5% to keep pace with inflation, as well as compensation for what is a demanding job.

Both PwC and Bütikofer float the possibility of raising medical tariffs (which govern the standard price of medicine and treatment) to offset the rising costs and to help ensure salaries in the sector remain competitive.

However, a spokesman for Santésuisse – the umbrella group for health insurance providers – told the NZZ am Sonntag that this would merely result in extra costs for consumers; this after authorities recently announced that the cost of obligatory health insurance premiums would rise by 6.6% next year, the biggest increase in a decade.

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