Health Authorities: Stress and Hope

The federal government is strongly supporting the health authorities: four billion euros are to be used to remedy the weaknesses that became apparent during the pandemic. But what happens to the money from tax revenues?

The corona pandemic overwhelmed health authorities in many cities at the beginning of the year. And until a vaccine or cure is found, the stress lingers. Overtime and weekend work are the rule in almost all health departments because of a lack of staff. It was often necessary to improvise in order to be able to trace infection chains, for example. The staffing requirements were often temporarily increased with students and part-time employees. Permanent solutions are now in sight.

5000 new jobs are promised

According to Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn, "the largest investment in the public health service in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany" means that 5,000 doctors, specialist and administrative staff will be hired in the next two years.

That means around ten to twenty new positions per authority. The "Pact for the Public Health Service" gives hope to many people who are currently overburdened in the offices. But how can so many new employees be trained in a short period of time? Where should they work? And what actually happens in a health department if there is no pandemic? We spoke to the managers in Jena, Nuremberg and Essen:

Dr. Enikö Bán has headed the Jena Health Department since January 2020. Born in Vienna, she previously worked for the health authorities in Nuremberg and Weimar.

Head of Dr. Enikö Bán

© W & B / Anna Scholl


"The situation of the health authorities is very different. We in Jena were well positioned in terms of personnel even before Corona. Nevertheless, there is a need. Whether a second wave comes or another infectious disease threatens: Then it is good to be able to fall back on trained staff. The so-called containment -Scouts, our employees who follow up contacts, need constant further training. And that does not happen immediately. Many people who are called and find out that they have had contact with an infected person are anxious and have questions , some also become aggressive. Our medical staff therefore also needs a high level of social skills. In order to be better prepared against the risks of the pandemic, investments in digitization are also necessary. So far, we have received information about those who tested positive by fax and e-mail. This means that we have to examine each piece of information individually to decide who is responsible for the case l and the follow-up is responsible. That takes up time and could be much faster with digital support.

Many people only now perceive the existence of the health authorities through Corona. My colleagues in all communities fulfill a wide range of tasks.