Corona pandemic – bonus for nurses should not come for everyone
Felix Kästle/dpaAudio: Inforadio | 01/14/2022 | Thomas Rautenberg | Image: Felix Kästle/dpa Nursing staff should also receive a corona bonus this year – but who will get it has not yet been decided, it is still being argued about. The frustration is correspondingly great – not only among those who could go away empty-handed. By Thomas Rautenberg Claudia Schneider is an emergency nurse at the rescue station of a Berlin clinic. She has already received a Corona bonus in the past and as things stand, she is involved in the payment of the premium again this time. But she doesn’t really want to be happy about the additional money. The planned bonus completely ignores the realities of the healthcare system, says the 47-year-old nurse. “Rejecting money would of course be stupid. But what really burns on our minds are the working conditions, understaffing and underfunding of the entire system. This is also the reason for the lack of prospects for our entire profession.” Image: Thomas Rautenberg/rbb
Haven’t had good experiences with the Corona bonus
Last year, Schneider remembers, the well-intentioned bonus would have caused a lot of envy within the company. The firefighters who bring the patients, the in-house transport service that moves the Covid patients on the premises, the cleaners who clean everything – shouldn’t they also get a bonus, asks Schneider. “In the end, all that remains is a great feeling of injustice on all sides,” fears the emergency nurse.
A matter of numbers
In the coalition agreement, the traffic light had already agreed on a renewed corona premium for nursing staff. And even before his first government statement, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) expressly renewed the promise to pay. The federal government wants to make one billion euros available for this, which is more than twice as much as last year. And the payment should start as soon as possible.
But shortly thereafter, Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) put on the brakes – first of all it had to be clarified who was eligible for the bonus, according to the minister, who had precise ideas about the group of beneficiaries: “The nursing bonus should be paid to nursing staff in particular , which were particularly affected by the corona pandemic. Then it can also be set at a significant level”. It should be up to 3,000 euros in individual cases, depending on the type and duration of the nursing staff during the corona pandemic. Last year, a maximum of 1,500 euros was paid per person – 1,000 from the federal government, the rest from the state. The German Hospital Society and the central nursing associations should now provide the federal government with reliable figures on how many intensive care and emergency nurses in the clinics and old people’s homes are eligible for the planned premium.
Corona bonus in keywords
The federal government wants to recognize the special achievements of the nursing staff in the corona pandemic with a bonus. However, a heated argument has already broken out about who should actually get the money: this year’s Corona bonus could be up to 3,000 euros. The federal government wants to make a total of one billion euros available for this. Significantly more than in the two previous years. In 2020, the central associations of statutory health insurance made 100 million available for the bonus. And last year the federal government paid 450 million euros. The federal states had increased the premium amount again. It was mainly nurses in the outpatient area, in nursing homes and in the intensive care and corona wards of the clinics that received it. This year there should be significantly more money for bonus payments to nursing staff. But who will actually benefit in the end must now be decided by the German Hospital Society, together with the nursing care insurance funds. The bonus is intended primarily for elderly, intensive care and emergency nurses, whose work was particularly difficult in Corona times. At this point, however, the dispute flared up: the cleaning and transport staff in the clinics were previously excluded from a bonus payment, as were most nursing staff on normal wards or those who take care of people with disabilities in inpatient facilities. They too now want to benefit from the bonus payments. A quick decision is necessary: the corona bonus must be in the account by July 1st at the latest. Otherwise, the premium must be taxed.
No bonus for everyone
For Michaela Sommer it is clear that she and her colleagues will once again go away empty-handed. Sommer is a facility manager in the so-called reintegration aid at the Berlin Stephanus Foundation in Weißensee. 104 people with mental and physical disabilities are cared for around the clock in 13 residential groups. A very special challenge in Corona times, says Sommer. Over the Christmas holidays, for example, there was a massive corona outbreak in two residential groups. The duty roster was wasted and the employees had to do without all their days off. “People worked under full protection up to their stress limit and beyond,” reports Michaela Schneider. Image: Thomas Rautenberg/rbb Nevertheless – the area of caring for people with disabilities is not even intended for a corona bonus. This “double standard” by the government is pissing her off, says Sommer. “It’s so annoying because it runs like a red thread: Disabled people don’t have a big lobby, and our work isn’t the focus of it. Of course I hope that there will also be a corona bonus for our nurses. And if not, then a lot of frustration in the workforce is guaranteed. Because it’s not just about money, it’s about recognition!”
Quick agreement needed
Before the end of this month, the Federal Minister of Health wants to make a proposal to Parliament as to which nurses should receive how much money as recognition from the bonus pot. The payment must be in the accounts by July 1 at the latest – otherwise it will be taxed. Broadcast: Inforadio, January 14, 2022, 12:50 p.m
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